Portrait: Matthew Ortile

Freshmen leave their dorms open to the hallway, complicit in the menagerie, like lilting cockatoos ready to be photographed.  I'll be the first to admit I've made many friends that way my first semester at Vassar.  Meeting Matthew was no different.

I was visiting a neighboring dorm, feeling full from dinner and ready for more conversation before opening my books.  We heard Matt's exuberance announce his own arrival.  Caroline hardly finished introducing us when he screamed at me, "YOU'RE FILIPINO?!"  

Five years later, we are closer than ever -- working in the same industry and living in adjacent Brooklyn neighborhoods.  We decided to get coffee last weekend at a local gem, CafĂ© Regular du Nord, and I managed to catch him more seriously than I think he'd normally allow.

The best way to describe his work as a contemporary essayist is that he writes, without censor, the expositions of his heart, and of the bodies he breaks it against.