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. The Poetry Center 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 and filmmaker, soft brown hair in waves, a light smile, light rose-colored scarf, looks directly toward us

Tripwire Series: Safaa Fathy, poet and filmmaker in person

The Poetry Center's Tripwire Cross-Cultural Poetics Series welcomes poet and filmmaker Safaa Fathy, presenting her work in both poetry and film, and joining in conversation with her audience. This rare appearance by the Egyptian-born artist, visiting from her home in France, is presented with our gratitude to UK and US publishers Pamenar Press (Ghazal Mosadeq) and Litmus Press (E. Tracy Grinnell), whose translated editions of Safaa Fathy's works, Al Haschiche, and Where Not to Be Born, recently appeared. Her work appears also in Another Room to Live In: 15 Contemporary Arab Poets (ed. Omar Barrada & Sarah Riggs, Litmus, 2024). Program presented in conjunction with Tripwire journal and ATA.

two artists in dark garb, a hand on a shoulder, a suit, a solicitation

Trans* Temporal Resistances: Emji Saint Spero, Leila Weefur & friends

The Poetry Center co-presents, in conjunction with TurkxTaylor Initiative and with co-curation by Emji Saint Spero and Leila WeefurTrans* Temporal Resistances, in which writers and artists are invited to deconstruct trans archives and architectures through textual and movement-based approaches. Situated within a district in which desire has historically been boundaried and confined, these performances engage Queer Time as an embodied strategy of resistance. The performance series, mirroring an open assemblage model, invites three local writers, Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta, Mason J., and Rowan Powell

two poets, one buttoned up in pale blue, direct glance, combed back hair; one in b&w stripes, rounded collar, dark pulled back locks

Lynn Xu and Jacob Kahn: Poetry Centry Book Award Rwading

The Poetry Center presents poets Lynn Xu and Jacob Kahn, each reading their work then joining in conversation with one another and their audience. Xu's book, And Those Ashen Heaps That Cantilevered Vase of Moonlight (Wave Books, 2022), is selected by Kahn to receive The Poetry Center Book Award, given each year since 1980 to an outstanding book of poems. Join us for this online-only event. Register here.


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!