Keynote Readings

San Jose State University’s Poets and Writers Coalition will host the annual Legacy of Poetry Day Reading and Celebration in honor of National Poetry Month as an online event this year, which will premiere on YouTube April 23, 2020. This year’s event will focus on the theme “Staying Home: The Way to San Jose.” The theme is designed to include poems inspired by the poets’ personal and family stories of how they settled in and made their home in San Jose and the Silicon Valley. Or how they’re coping with sheltering-in-place here in San Jose or nearby Silicon Valley communities. The YouTube premiere of the Legacy of Poetry webcast is scheduled to start streaming April 23 at 4:00 pm. 

Keynote Poet

This year’s keynote poet is Ellen Bass, poet and educator, bestselling nonfiction author, and winner of the Lambda Literary Award. Bass is a former Santa Cruz poet laureate and is SJSU’s 2021 Connie and Robert Lurie Distinguished Author-in-Residence. Her newest collection of poems, Indigo, will be published in April 2020 by Copper Canyon Press. Her poems frequently appear in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications. She is also a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Featured Readers

Joining her as featured readers are Janice Logo Sapigao, newly appointed Santa Clara County poet laureate; Mighty Mike McGee, former Santa Clara County poet laureate; Arlene Biala, former Santa Clara County poet laureate; Sally Ashton, former Santa Clara County poet laureate; Gary Singh, poet and Metro columnist; and Tskaka Campbell, award-winning poet and spoken word artist.

These featured poets will be followed by poets from the SJSU faculty, including Alan Soldofsky, director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing, Michael Tod Edgerton, and Joseph Navarro; as well as SJSU alumni, including Darrell Dela Cruz, Linda Lappin, Mark Heinlein. They will be followed by more poets from the San Jose community and award-winning undergraduate and graduate student poets. 


As part of this festival we have included a 20-second poem contest for anyone to write or collect a poem that is 20-30 seconds long (the time CDC recommends we spend washing our hands). This contest is for SJSU students and all members of the San Jose community. They will submit their poems on social media using our hashtag #Best20SecondPoemSJSU. If chosen, they will be asked to send an audio or video file that will be posted on our Legacy of Poetry website. Submissions for poems are until May 1, 2020.

If you are interested in more information about this and other SJSU literary events, please visit the Department of English and Comparative Literature. 

Sponsors and Co-Sponsors

The Legacy of Poetry Reading and Celebration is made possible by the following SJSU campus sponsors in conjunction with the SJSU Poets and Writers Coalition:

  • Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • College of Humanities and the Arts
  • Center for Literary Arts
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library

Community co-sponsors include:

  • Poetry Center San Jose
  • Copper Canyon Press

About SJSU Poet’s and Writer’s Coalition

The Poets and Writers Coalition is an organization created to support the artistic community at San Jose State and the outlying Bay Area public. They strive to support any artistic avenues.