Jean Burden Poetry Series

Cal State LA Mourns Jean Burden - 2008

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 LA. 

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 LA., 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.



2020 Jean Burden Poetry Series
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
5:30 PM | Golden Eagle Ballrooms

Kwame Dawes
Marilyn Chin

Poet Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Oregon, in the U.S. Northwest. She earned a BA from the University of Massachusetts and MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. A noted anthologist, translator and educator as well as a poet and novelist, Chin’s work distills her experiences as an Asian American and feminist. Her poetry is noted for its direct and often confrontational attitude. “The pains of cultural assimilation infuse her… poems,” wrote Contemporary Women Poets essayist Anne-Elizabeth Green, noting that in the collections Dwarf Bamboo (1987) and The Phoenix Gone, The Terrace Empty (1994) “Chin struggles passionately and eloquently in the pull between the country left behind and America—the troubled landscape that is now home.” Chin is also the author of the poetry collections Rhapsody in Plain Yellow (2002), Hard Love Province (2014), winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and A Portrait of the Self as Nation: New and Selected Poems (2018).

Past Readers


Kwame Dawes

Kwame Davis


Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo


Daniel Borzutsky

Daniel Borzutsky


Juan Felipe Herrara

Juan Felipe Herrera


Image of Sonia Sanchez

Sonia Sanchez


Image of Li-Young Lee

Li-Young Lee


Image of Wanda Coleman

Wanda Coleman


Image of Rhina Espaillat

Rhina Espaillat


Image of Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth


Image of Wendy Cope

Wendy Cope


Image of Victor Hernandez Cruz

Victor Hernàndez Cruz


Image of Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich


Image of Andrew Motion

Andrew Motion


Image of Rita Dove

Rita Dove


Image of Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson

2004 Anthony Hecht (press release)

2003 Harryette Mullen (press release)

2002 Liz Rosenberg (press release)

2001 David St. John (press release)

2000 Galway Kinnell (press release)

1999 Linda Pastan (press release)

1998 Donald Hall (press release)

1997 Jean Burden (press release)

1996 Richard Wilbur

1995 Mary Oliver

1994 Diana O'Hehir

1993 Killarney Clary and Bruce Bond

1992 Carolyn Kizer

1991 Lucille Clifton

1990 Mark Strand

1989 Maxine Kumin

1988 Howard Nemerov

1987 Tess Gallagher

1986 Paul Zimmer