Poetry at Berkeley

At UC Berkeley, we are lucky to have a wealth of poetry experiences designed for our students, faculty and staff, and broader communities. Events are all free and open to the public, and some require pre-registration; in this continued hybrid moment, some are in person and others are livestreamed and live captioned. Below are some groups, events, and lectures for you to explore:

Arts Research Center’s Poetry & the Senses

This initiative, funded by Engaging the Senses Foundation, supports Berkeley and Bay Area community poetry fellows (more info here), hosts a visiting writer lecture series (here) as well as a Bay Area Flash Reading Series (here).

To be added to the mailing list to receive info on upcoming events and deadlines, please subscribe to the newsletter in the sidebar of our website @ arts.berkeley.edu

The English Dept’s Lunch Poems Series

Lunch Poems is Berkeley’s longstanding noontime poetry reading series, held the first Thursday of each month. It was founded by Professor Robert Hass, and will be online for 2021-2022. To be added to their mailing list, please email: poems(at)library.berkeley.edu

View the series here.

Holloway Poetry Series & Holloway Lecture

The Holloway Series in Poetry is sponsored by the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley, and is funded through an Endowment made by Roberta C. Holloway in 1981. This generous fund has enabled us to establish a tradition of poetry on campus to celebrate the works of renowned and rising contemporary poets, and provide an opportunity for graduate student poets from the UC Berkeley campus community to introduce and read alongside a featured poet.

More information here.

Townsend Center’s Avenali & Una’s Lectures

The Townsend Center for Humanities hosts several lectures each year related to the Arts & Humanities, including past lectures with poets and thinkers like Maggie Nelson and Joy Harjo. They also hold book chats with faculty (here).

For information on the Avenali Lectures, please visit here.

More information on the Una’s Lectures here.

African American Studies Celebrates June Jordan

The department of African American Studies will focus their Critical Conversations for 2021-2022 on Celebrating the Life and Legacy of June Jordan, with a series of events and readings running through April 2022.

More information and event registrations here.

Berkeley Poetry Review

The Berkeley Poetry Review has been publishing exciting new work since 1974. They seek language-based and/or experimental writing, translations, art, and (less frequently) essays and interviews, and are particularly interested in work that complicates prevailing conceptions of race, gender, sexuality, ecology, poetic form, and narrative voice.

More info here.


Established in 2001, CalSLAM hosts poetry workshops, open mics, and slam competitions open to the campus and greater Bay Area community. Our mission is to create a safe space for students and community members to explore and share themselves, their experiences and their world through words.

More info here.

Contemporary Poetry & Poetics Working Group

This graduate working group reads old books of poetry and new books of poetry, but mostly the newest ones. Funded by the Townsend Center for Humanities.

More information, here.

Creative Writing @ Berkeley

If you are interested in undergrad Creative Writing courses or information about the minor, please visit their site here.

Berkeley does not have a grad program in Creative Writing; a selection of programs at other universities can be found here.

Poetry for the People

Poetry for the People (P4P) at UC Berkeley is an arts/activism program, founded by the late June Jordan in 1991. P4P continues to pursue Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a beloved community for all. P4P has an academic focus on the reading, writing, and teaching of poetry, and also engages in working with teens and young adults, schools, and community organizations, and activist projects in the greater Bay Area.

More information on P4P here.

Student Learning Center’s Writing Events

Berkeley’s Student Learning Center holds poetry/creative writing events and student contests throughout the year.

More information here.

The Art of Writing

The Art of Writing at UC Berkeley celebrates writing as a teachable art that requires critical thinking and reading and that demands patience and careful revision. They offer events, courses, a summer institute, tutoring, and pandemic diaries.

Please visit them here.

For over 20 years, the Arts Research Center has been a think tank for the arts at UC Berkeley – more here