This series, one of the longest running and most prestigious in the U.S., was established in 1986 by friends and supporters of Jean Burden to honor her achievements as a poet, essayist, editor, teacher and scholar. An Illinois native, University of Chicago alumna, and Altadena resident, Burden served as poetry editor of Yankee Magazine for 47 years, and published her poetry in prominent magazines including Poetry, Saturday Review, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review and American Scholar. She is the author of two poetry collections, Naked as the Glass (October House, 1963) and Taking Light from Each Other (University Press of Florida, 1992). Her poetry has been praised by figures such as James Dickey who called “[h]er voice unforced and lovely, saying the right un-heard-of-things with naturalness,” and Mary Oliver who described her poems as “silky, meditative, purposeful...filled with the deft cadences of reason.” Burden wrote six bestsellers on animal welfare, and an essay collection, Journey Toward Poetry (October House, 1966), lauded by May Sarton as “a key to a way of looking and a way of being.” The Jean Burden Series also honors and celebrates Jean Burden’s decades of commitment to sustaining poetry’s presence at Cal State L.A.
This increasingly popular event features an annual reading by a major poet. Noted poets, Pulitzer Prize winners and Poets Laureate have been guest readers since the inception of this series at Cal State L.A., including Andrew Motion, Rita Dove, Anthony Hecht, Maxine Kumin, Mary Oliver, Harryette Mullen, Lucille Clifton, Galway Kinnell, Carolyn Kizer, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Richard Wilbur, Linda Pastan, and Mark Strand.
Victor Hernàndez Cruz
Linton Kwesi Johnson