Sam Mazza Foundation Awards $100,000 Grant to SF State Poetry Center

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Photo of Tongo Eisen-Martin shaking hands with a student during a classroom talk
During his Mazza residency in October 2017, poet Tongo Eisen-Martin talks to a Creative Writing class. Photo by Erica Rigney.

The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University recently won a 10-year, $100,000 grant from the Sam Mazza Foundation to continue a residency program that has brought influential writers to campus for student workshops, talks and public performances.

Established in fall 2017, the Mazza Writer-in-Residence program engages intensive student and community involvement. For one week each semester, a writer in residence is guest speaker in classes and leads workshops for students of poetry, fiction, drama, Ethnic Studies, Women and Gender Studies and others, as well as public performances both on and off campus.

Mazza Writers in Residence to date include Tongo Eisen-Martin, Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta, Juli Delgado-Lopera, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and, slated for spring 2020 and to be rescheduled, Wendy Trevino.

“The ongoing success of the Sam Mazza Writer in Residence program is in accord with the foundation’s mission to support initiatives that enrich culture through the arts and arts education,” said Jeanette Cool, Sam Mazza Foundation executive director. “The excellence of the visiting artists during the fall and spring semesters, their in-depth engagement with the students at San Francisco State University and the community in the greater Bay Area demonstrates The Poetry Center as a vital hub. The foundation believes The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University is a national treasure.”

“We’re delighted by this generous act of support and confidence from the Sam Mazza Foundation, and extremely grateful in particular to Anne Galjour, for initiating the residency idea and for her powerful advocacy at the foundation on behalf of The Poetry Center,” said Steve Dickison, Poetry Center director. “Our intent with the Mazza residencies is to bring Bay Area poets and writers making a strong impact with their creative and community work into classrooms across the SF State campus. The video-documented public performances of the Mazza Writers in Residence extend that impact far beyond the residencies’ one-week span.”

Sam Mazza Foundation

The Sam Mazza Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation established by the estate of founder Sam Mazza in October 2005. Since its inception, the foundation has granted $7 million dollars to qualified 501 (c)(3) organizations that work to improve their communities through the arts, education or addressing quality-of-life concerns. It is based in Pacifica.

The Poetry Center

The Poetry Center, a research and service organization in SF State’s College of Liberal & Creative Arts, organizes and presents some 30 public readings, performances and poetry-related talks each year, on the SF State campus and at many other Bay Area venues, featuring outstanding poets and writers from across the literary spectrum. The Poetry Center Reading Series, founded in 1954, is one of the longest running such programs in the country, with roots in the 1950s San Francisco Poetry Renaissance. The center also houses the American Poetry Archives, an historic collection of more than 5,000 hours of original audio and video recordings documenting the Reading Series, with recent and historic recordings online at The Poetry Center Digital Archive.

— Matt Itelson



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