Mission, Goals and Background

The Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics provides a forum for everyone  interested in poetry by:

  • Presenting activities and events to promote the full range of poetic voices from diverse cultural backgrounds and approaches to the genre;
  • Promoting appreciation and understanding of contemporary poetry and poetics in a wide array of forms and styles;
  • Encouraging research and preservation in contemporary poetry and poetics and stimulating the creation of new poetry.  

By creating a forum for discussion, celebration, reading and performance of poetry, The Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics serves as a vehicle to bring together scholars, students, poets and the public for purposes of:

  • Establishing strong links with the community and other academic and cultural partners through the dynamic vehicle of poetry;
  • Providing programming that is expansive, inclusive and of the highest quality to serve our varied and multicultural participants as effectively and inventively as possible.

Through its activities, the Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics continues a long and important history at CSULA of bringing together scholars, practitioners, students and other parties interested in current poetry and poetics. From its founding in 1947, CSULA has been a major hub for activities that contribute to the development of new audiences for poetry, and to the creation,  study, promotion and consideration of poetry. 

One of the earliest alumni of Los Angeles State College, Henri Coulette (’51), and other founding members of the faculty, Frederick Shroyer and Thomas McGrath, established this tradition early in the history of the campus. In 1977, alumna Barbara Dubé Gershman along with James Krusoe formed The Writing Center to maintain this tradition. The Jean Burden Series, initiated in 1986, has continued this history to the present and broadened the external financial support for poetry at CSULA through an innovative grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to build audiences for poetry, and through the endowment campaign that has raised approximately $750,000 from private donors.

Further growth in CSULA's poetry programming took place in 2004, with the addition of a British Council Poets-in-Residence partnership which annually brings a different British poet to interact for one month with the campus and community; an expanded visiting poets series throughout the academic year that is directly integrated with teaching curricula; and poetry mentorships with Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and Chester W. Nimitz Middle School.

In August 2006, The Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics was established by Presidential Charter in order to continue building on the solid foundation of this long and energetic history and commitment to poetry at CSULA.