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 programs alongside historic recordings from seven decades are being migrated to online access at Poetry Center Digital Archive.

text in bold black reads Poetry Center Archive Goes Live! against stretched calfskin drumhead, with drum mallet and its shadow about to strike the drum

NEW: Poetry Center Archive Goes Live!

Historic video recordings (with downloadable audio) plus a few audio-original recordings, documenting the Poetry Center Reading Series. We'll post rare video from the 1970s and 1980s, thanks to digital transfers by BAVC, the Bay Area Video Coalition, and its Preservation Access Program. Newly-posted audio includes a rediscovered 1954 lecture by W. H. Auden and a repaired 1959 reading by Allen Ginsberg of his "Kaddish" and other poems — one of our most popular recordings. Check out the video highlight clips here!

a woman with straight combed short silver hair, wearing a pink and blue wool sweater, looks out from a backyard setting, a grey wood fence and neighboring rooftops behind her

Etel Adnan, a Memorial Tribute: May 14, 2022

Watch the video of the Poetry Center's memorial tribute to our beloved friend and teacher, Etel Adnan. Participants include Zaina Alsous, David Buuck, Naz Cuguoğlu, Fady Joudah, Stefania Pandolfo, and Camille Roy. (Included in the program, thanks to Simone Fattal, is a long excerpt from Adnan's film "Motion.") Presented in conjunction with the Tripwire Cross-Cultural Poetics Series. Photo by Geordie Martinez, 2008.

a poet in round dark glasses and a light blue jacket looks into the camera, the sea at his back

Ari Banias: two events, Thursday OCT 6 and Saturday OCT 8

Poetry Center Mazza Writer in Residence for Fall 2022, poet Ari Banias, will be joined by poet and artist (and contributor to the exhibition) Demian Dinéyazhi´ on Thursday October 6, reading their work in conjunction with Beyond Binary, at the Fine Arts Gallery, SF State. Saturday October 8 Banias will be joined by poet Brandon Som, reading at Medicine for Nightmares, on 24th Street in the Mission District. Both dates are afternoon events.


Poetry Center Digital Archive

Years Presenting Poets & Their Works
Hours of Audio/Video
Archived Recordings
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 up to the present. Now available online:

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


We offer many resources in addition to our own Poetry Digital Archive.


The Poetry Center couldn't do it without the support of so many individuals.