Cal State L.A. opens Center
for Contemporary Poetry & Poetics
‘Umbrella’ of programs to foster
poetry ‘at the highest possible level’
Los Angeles, CA – Poetry, already in motion for decades at California State University, Los Angeles, just accelerated with the recent creation of the Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics.
Supported by a $750,000 bequest from Virginia E. Smith, Cal State L.A.’s new Center brings together scholars, students, poets and the community for classes, readings, dialogue, research, celebrations and presentations.
“The center,” said its director, Lauri Ramey, “puts all poetry programming at Cal State L.A. under one umbrella; and it allows us to expand.”
It also advances the campus’s poetic legacy, which includes annually hosting the Jean Burden Reading Series since 1986 and, more recently, the British Council Poet-in-Residence.
A published poet, Ramey formerly directed creative writing programs at Hampton University in Virginia and Cardiff University in Wales. She joined Cal State L.A.’s English faculty in 2004.
Calling poetry “the least-taught genre in literature,” she does not mince words when making its case: “In challenging political times, poetry has a long history of coming to the forefront. People sometimes don’t know where else to turn to express themselves.”
She said the center, in fostering “poetry at the highest possible level across all boundaries,” brings diverse components of the community together. For example, a group of eighth-grade students from Chester W. Nimitz Middle continues in a partnership already established between the Huntington Park school and the University. The Center also works with researchers and others from the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.
“Poetry can be accessible and exciting for everyone,” said Ramey. “With the Center, we want to create a very productive environment for making poetry, one that moves across disciplines. There’s nothing else quite like it in California.”
The guest poets visit Cal State L.A. classes to share their work, to critique performances and to encourage students, and to offer insights into poetics – the making of poems. They also make selected appearances in the community.
The Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics joins Cal State L.A.’s Integrated Humanities Center, which includes the Reel Rasquache Film Festival of Latino Cinema, the American Communities Program and the Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities.
For details about the Poetry Center, contact Cal State L.A.’s College of Arts and Letters at (323) 343-4001 or Ramey at (323) 343-4165.
Additional contacts and resources: