Jean Burden Reading Series

About Jean Burden

Jean Prussing Burden was born in Waukegan, Illinois on September 1, 1914. She attended the University of Chicago and graduated in 1936 before moving to Altadena, California in 1946. She is most well-known as the poetry editor for Yankee Magazine, serving for nearly fifty years between 1955 and 2002. Her other impressive achievements include two collections of poems: Naked as the Glass (1963) and Taking Light from Each Other (1992), a book of essays titled Journey Towards Poetry, and numerous articles and books covering topics from animal welfare to Asian religion. Burden also hosted poetry workshops throughout the years in her own home.

“Poetry,” Burden once wrote, “is a happening. In other words, it is active, moving, breathing. It goes somewhere and it takes us with it.” In the spirit of these words, the Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics and the Jean Burden Reading Series were founded to honor her influence and contributions.

Ms. Burden passed away in her Altadena home on April 21, 2008. She was 93.

About the Jean Burden Reading Series

This series, one of the longest running and most prestigious in the U.S., was established in 1986 by friends of the late Jean Burden to honor her achievements as a poet, essayist, editor, teacher and scholar. Sustained by a generous bequest from Virginia E. Smith, the Jean Burden Reading Series has featured such guest readers as Lucille Clifton, Victor Hernández Cruz, Rita Dove, Anthony Hecht, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Galway Kinnell, Carolyn Kizer, Maxine Kumin, Andrew Motion, Harryette Mullen, Mary Oliver, Linda Pastan, Adrienne Rich, Mark Strand and Richard Wilbur. In addition, Jean Burden herself has read at the series in 1997.

List of Distinguished Readers (click names to see more info/videos)

2014: Li-Young Lee

2013: Wanda Coleman

2012: Rhina Espaillat

2011: Vikram Seth

2010: Wendy Cope

2009: Victor Hernàndez Cruz

2008: Adrienne Rich

2007: Andrew Motion

2006: Rita Dove

2005: Linton Kwesi Johnson

2004: Anthony Hecht

2003: Harryette Mullen

2002: Liz Rosenberg

2001: David St. John

2000: Galway Kinnell

1999: Linda Pastan

1998: Donald Hall

1997: Jean Burden

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