Jean Burden Poetry Series

This series, among the most enduring and 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 the series.  Poets visiting campus have included 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.

Cal State LA Mourns Jean Burden - 2008


2022 Jean Burden Poetry Reading

Featuring Naomi Shihab Nye

February 22, 2022, 6 p.m. Pacific Time

Register for the Zoom by clicking here. 


Past Readers


2021 Jean Burden Poetry Series featuring Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine



Marilyn Chin


Kwame Dawes


Joy Harjo


Daniel Borzutsky


Juan Felipe Herrera


Sonia Sanchez


Li-Young Lee


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