Welcome to The Poetry Center

Mission Statement: The Poetry Center presents and documents the work of outstanding contemporary poets and writers, creating and preserving original new and historic audio and video recordings, while assuring public awareness of and access to live performances and archival resources. 

The Poetry Center organizes some 20–30 public readings, performances, and poetry-related talks each year, on the San Francisco State University campus and at other Bay Area venues, featuring poets and writers from across the literary spectrum. Our Reading Series is one of the longest consistently-running such programs in the country, with roots in the 1950s San Francisco Poetry Renaissance. New program videos alongside historic recordings from seven decades are being migrated to online access at Poetry Center Digital Archive.

white text on a background of orange trees reading: International Reading for Freedom of Expression and Solidarity with Palestine

International Reading for Freedom of Expression and Solidarity with Palestine

The Poetry Center is collaborating with an international coalition of independent presses, artists and writers, and arts organizations planning this 24-hour online event for Saturday November 25, 2023. International Reading for Freedom of Expression and Solidarity with Palestine will feature many participants presenting in an array of languages. Tune in to the 24-hr livestream at the link below.

two poets, one in long hair + beard, a backdrop of green leaves; one in eyeglasses, cropped dark curly hair and beard, backdrop of red brick

Anthony Cody and Chaun Webster at Howard Zinn Book Fair: Against Amnesia

The Poetry Center together with the Howard Zinn Book Fair welcomes Anthony Cody and Chaun Webster, arriving from Fresno and from Minneapolis, respectively. Two poet friends in correspondence read their work then talk with one another and their audience, for this late-morning opening session—part of an extraordinary day of artists and writers, organizers and activists, publishers and booksellers gathered at the call of the Bay Area-based Howard Zinn Book Fair collective under the heading "Against Amnesia." Join us!

a poet with shoulder length curly dark hair and a dark dress seated in an armchair, an array of potted plants beside them

Undisciplining the Fields, Divya Victor reading and in conversation with Tonya M. Foster

The Poetry Center welcomes Divya Victor, for a special day-long pair of programs in downtown Berkeley at the East Bay Media Center. At 2:00 pm Victor will be reading from her poetry, then joining in conversation with Tonya M. Foster for this the third gathering under the rubric Undisciplining the Fields: Study, Performance, and (Re:)Creation, organized in collaboration between The Poetry Center and the George and Judy Marcus Endowed Chair in Poetry. More below on this first of two events.


Poetry Center Digital Archive

boxed open reel audio tapes on shelves in the Poetry Center archive

Poetry Center Digital Archive

The Poetry Center houses the American Poetry Archives, a historic collection of some 5,000 hours of original audio and video recordings documenting The Poetry Center Reading Series from 1954 to the present. Now available online:

  • Poetry Center Archive Goes Live! Historic Videos Newly Available: 1973–1984
  • Historic Original Audio Recordings: 1950s and 1960s
  • New Full-Program Video Programs produced by DocFilm Institute: 2015–present 
  • New Program Video Highlight Clips produced by DocFilm Institute: 2015–present 
  • Recent Livestream Video produced by DocFilm Institute: 2020–present
  • Poetry Center Archive Goes Live! Historic Video Clips: 1973–1984
  • More Video Highlight Clips from the Archive: 2009–2014

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The Poetry Center offers several awards each year to recognize distinguished poets.


In addition to our Reading Series and recorded Archives, we host a 7,000 volume poetry collection in our Reading Room, Humanities 512.


The Poetry Center couldn't do what we do without your financial support. Please join us!