Matt Alexander Hanson is a writer in Istanbul. He produces weekly and monthly features from across Turkey, Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., covering art, books, history, travel, and food. His work with various international newspapers and magazines is translated into Turkish, Arabic, Hebrew and Ladino for El Amaneser, the last publication in the world entirely in the endangered Judeo-Spanish dialect. He is also an author of poetry and short stories, currently publishing a travelogue photobook, literary anthology and historical novel based on his research in the northwestern Greek city of Ioannina.
He began writing professionally as a paid freelancer at age 18 in the newsroom of The Standard Times, a regional daily from southeastern Massachusetts, producing music and film reviews. After completing courses in creative writing and comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Arabic language and Islamic history at the American University in Cairo, he went on to earn a social sciences degree with distinction from the International Indigenous Studies program at the University of Calgary. In the process he pursued Latin American Studies in Mexico and Peru, beginning at Iberoamericana University in Mexico City, with fieldwork in Maya-speaking communities in the Campeche, and with an independent research focus on local community practices integrating Western medicine and Andean shamanism at Antonio Guillermo Urrelo Private University in Catamarca, Peru, also studying tropical biology and conservation policy in the Western Amazon jungles of Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve and Iquitos, Peru.
He graduated with a research grant award from the Irma M. Parhad Studentship, which funded his return to Sudanese refugee education centers in Cairo, Egypt, where he had formed long-standing relationships and further stimulated NGO and international outreach services. His research led to advocacy journalism, which appeared with multiple publications, including Mint Press News and The Media Co-op, where he became an editor, publisher and contributor, writing for its and national magazine The Dominion before opening a subdivision in the city of Calgary, for which he was featured in an interview with Fast Forward Magazine, where he also contributed articles occasionally. His writings on popular resistance and climate science from the field in the Athabasca Tar Sands exposed mega-industrial oil and gas projects in the region. His stories appeared in This Magazine, Public Interest Alberta, Catalysta, and a number of other publications.
After moving to New York City in 2014, his criticism gained notoriety after he reviewed, The Complete Works of Primo Levi, when its editor, the translator and New Yorker contributor Ann Goldstein mentioned his piece on Book TV. In the winter of 2015 he traveled to Turkey from New York City, where he had worked for The Brooklyn Paper, Breakthru Radio, and BroadwayWorld.com as a neighborhood reporter and art critic. He has since freelanced for numerous international magazines, such as Yes! from the Macedonian-Greek border on the EU refugee crisis, for 212 Magazine on the first solar flight around the world and the history of skyscrapers, and The Carton: Food Culture and the Middle East on overfishing in the Bosphorus, among others. In Istanbul, his journalism is syndicated internationally and he is frequently translated into Turkish. He recently edited the comprehensive Dirimart publication on the abstract painter Âbidin Elderoğlu written by the Turkish art historian Ahmet Kamil Gören.
He publishes poems under pen names Rusty Kjarvik and Alexander Menachem, appearing with such outlets as the Ars Omnia Press anthology The Body Electric with Jane Hirshfield, also 3AM Magazine, Rio Grande Review, Typishly.com and many others. He is currently developing a new collection of short fiction, lately publishing a novella excerpt of political satire at The Write Launch titled “Symphony for Türkiye in C#”. While writing his debut novel set mainly in Ottoman-era Greece and early 20th century New York, he is producing a literary anthology of Judeo-Greek writing from antiquity to the contemporary titled Romaniote Literature. His travelogue to northwestern Greece, The Clouds of Ioannina, is forthcoming as a photobook with Kapon Editions.