Poetry Center San José's mission is to nurture and promote diverse literary expression in our community as a means of exploring, defining, and enriching the human experience.
In furtherance of our mission, we offer programs and services to stimulate passion for the literary arts and to inspire and support emerging and established writers. We collaborate with other organizations to ensure that these programs and services reflect the diversity of our community and to involve people from a wide range of backgrounds as audience and members.
Board of Directors
Robert Pesich, President
Mighty Mike McGee, Secretary
Bill Cozzini, Treasurer
Alice De Parres, Fund Development
Caesar Kent, Marketing
Jeffrey Leonard, Veterans Write
Amy Meier, Veterens Write
Joe Miller, Design, Publications
Dennis Richardson, Willow Glen Readings
Nils Peterson, Emeritus
Kara Erdodi Arguello, Email Support
Pushpa McFarlane, Video Support
Dennis Noren, Markham House
Christine Richardson, Willow Glen Readings
Mary Lou Taylor
Karen Phan Trias
Poetry Center San José is continually seeking new participants in organizing, programming, marketing and other areas. To find out how to participate, contact volunteer (at) pcsj.org.
Poetry Center San José is member supported and is funded, in part, by Silicon Valley Creates, in Partnership with the County of Santa Clara and the California Arts Council.
PCSJ, A History
Nils Peterson and Naomi Clark founded what is now called Poetry Center San José in 1978. As its first Executive Director, Naomi and her husband hosted workshops with such poets as Robert Bly, Galway Kinnell, and William Stafford. The Center’s main objective has been to provide a place for pur community of poets to come together, improve their craft, and support one another. Readings, workshops, and academic programs have been continual.
Hundreds of exceptional writers from around the world have read from their works and conducted workshops for the large community of writers in the Bay Area over the past thirty years, among them Yehuda Amichai, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Lucille Clifton; Poets Laureates Billy Collins, Rita Dove, and Robert Hass; Brenda Hillman, Jane Hirschfield, Carolyn Kizer, Li-Young Lee, W. S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich, Gerald Stern, the late Czeslaw Milosz, US Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, Sharon Olds and many others.
Previously run out of board members’ garages, PCSJ officially opened the Markham House as its headquarters on May 26, 2002, in a ceremony led by NEA chair Dana Gioia. Francisco X. Alarcon, nominated as California’s Poet Laureate, read at the dedication along with Jack and Adele Foley. The building—moved from its previous location to History Park and subsequently restored, rewired, painted and furnished with the support of many volunteers and sponsors—was the house where Edwin Markham lived near the San José State campus in the late 1800s. It contains an exhibit of Markham’s memorabilia and poetry and the start of several specific libraries for poets.
PCSJ also publishes the literary journal Caesura, which has gained a national reputation. Two of its poems have earned Pushcart Prizes and cover designs by designer Joe Miller have been published in books on design and typography.