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 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.

a poet, her hands clasped on the table, long brown hair, necklaces and v-neck shirt; another poet in blue button-up shirt before a blue wall, straight brown hair, short beard, and eyeglasses

Phoebe Giannisi and Brandon Brown, at The Green Arcade

Poet, performer, and scholar Phoebe Giannisi, visiting from her home in Athens, Greece, together with poet and translator Brandon Brown each read from their poetry. Giannisi is The Poetry Center's Mazza Writer in Residence for Spring 2023. This second public event, with Bay Area poet Brandon Brown joining in, is the final Poetry Center program at The Green ArcadeSusan Gevirtz will provide introductions for the poets. Please join us for what should be a memorable evening! 

two poets, one in colored shirt, fancy mustache, two grey dogs under their arm; one with brown straight hair, dark o-neck top before a window, smiling

Tripwire Cross-Cultural Poetics Series: Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse and Shook

For this year's Tripwire Cross-Cultural Poetics Series, our honored guests are Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse and Shook, prolific poet-translators whose work is devoted to persecuted languages and endangered literatures, with an emphasis on a relational, not extractive, approach to translation. They are joined by their friend and co-worker Zêdan Xelef, poet-translator and presently graduate student in the MFA writing program at SF State, as interlocutor and representative of The Poetry Center. 

3 poets with a predominant orange & brown theme to attire and hair, the ocean at sunset adding orange accent

New Voice Series: featuring Meliza Bañales, with Carlos Quinteros III and Hilary Cruz Mejia

The New Voice Series, in its third annual iteration, features a poet alum of SF State, in combination with a current SF State Creative Writing graduate student poet, and an undergraduate student poet (drawn from any major) at SF State, each reading their work and engaging in conversation. For this year's event, Meliza Bañales will appear as featured poet, along with Carlos Quinteros III and Hilary Cruz Mejia. Participants in the series are selected by Poetry Center student staff. Please join us!


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!