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.

woman in silver hair, light glasses, blue scarf and dark coat gazes upward before a wall of stacked suitcases

Mitsuye Yamada's 100th Birthday, a poets' reading and tribute, hosted by Brynn Saito and Brandon Shimoda

The Poetry Center is deeply honored to present a poets' reading and tribute to acclaimed poet, essayist, educator, feminist, and human rights activist, Mitsuye Yamada, to help mark her 100th birthday and the extending influence of her remarkable life and work. This online event is hosted by poets Brynn Saito and Brandon Shimoda and organized with the kind assistance of Hedi Yamada Mouchard. Participants at link below. 

3 poets, side by side, gardens behind first and third, blue-grey sky behind the second, with the third poet holding a peach

Eric Sneathen, Noah Ross, Violet Spurlock, reading and book party

A reading and book party featuring new work by three Bay Area poets and poetry organizers, generative presences on the local scene and beyond. We are pleased, together with our friends at ATA (Artists' Television Access), to host the dream lineup of Eric SneathenNoah Ross, and Violet Spurlock. This event marks the first public readings from anticipated new books by Sneathen (Don't Leave Me This Way, Nightboat Books) and Spurlock (In Lieu of Solutions, Futurepoem).

poet in orange striped shirt, green jacket, long brown hair and cropped beard, in Clarion Alley with murals at their back

Mazza Writer in Residence Josiah Luis Alderete: OCT 2–6, 2023

The Poetry Center's 11th Mazza Writer in Residence is beloved poet and community organizer Josiah Luis Alderete. In addition to being a guest artist in classes across the SF State campus, Alderete presents his work in two public programs. For the first date, right here Thursday OCT 5 at 1:00 pm, he's with Mimi Tempestt, who's debuting her new book, the delicacy of embracing spirals. That same evening, Thursday OCT 5 at 7:00 pm, Alderete is at home base, with the deep Fresno poet scene well-represented by Sara Borjas and Aideed Medina, in the Mission at Medicine for Nightmares bookstore and galeria. 


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!