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.

two poets: one in a straw fedora, long dark hair, looking directly; one in large lightweight glasses, white shirt opened at their chest

Kim Shuck and Hataałiinez Wheeler, reading and in conversation

The Poetry Center welcomes Kim Shuck, Poet Laureate Emerita of San Francisco, who'll be reading from her recent work, together with young Diné poet Hataałiinez Wheeler, visiting from Window Rock, Arizona. This is the first of two paired events, with Hataałii in his role as singer-songwriter performing this same evening, with local Colectivo CalleSon opening. For this early afternoon set of readings and conversation, we're at The Poetry Center. Please join us.

a poet-musician partly in shadow with long straight dark hair, seated on a doorstep, light blue painted door behind them

Hataałii and Colectivo CalleSon, live musical performance

The Poetry Center presents acclaimed singer/songwriter Hataałii joining us from Window Rock, Arizona, for a rare Bay Area appearance, with San Francisco-based banda Colectivo CalleSon opening, for an evening of live music performance at Medicine for Nightmares bookstore y galeria in San Francisco's Mission district. Come on down and join us for a very special night of music and camaradería.

poet with dark skin and hair, dark glasses, a wide smile, wearing a white jacket, light blue shirt + striped t-shirt

Undisciplining the Fields: Major Jackson, reading and in conversation with Tonya M. Foster

The Poetry Center and City Lights Books co-present renowned poet Major Jackson, reading from his recent book, Razzle Dazzle: New & Selected Poems, and engaging in conversation with poet and scholar Tonya M. Foster. This event is the latest in Foster's series co-organized with The Poetry Center, Undisciplining the Fields, and takes place onsite at City Lights. The event will also be broadcast on zoom. Register to attend 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!