Sacramento State has acquired nearly 40 years’ worth of documents from the Sacramento Poetry Center, including posters, scrapbooks, 200 different publications, and a box labeled “wildly assorted and somewhat random memorabilia, 1979-2014.”
The collection is housed in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) at the University Library and is open to the campus community and the public.
“The Poetry Center has been an epicenter for verse writers since 1979,” says Amy Kautzman, Library dean. “Through its work and authors, it captures the tale of Sacramento and the surrounding region, and for that reason is a collection with a high research value. I can imagine author-biographers, as well as students doing homework, exploring the primary resources in the archives in the hope of building a greater understanding of our local publishing scene.”
To help SCUA with the expense of conserving the collection, the Poetry Center has arranged for its supporters to use a special code during the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s Big Day of Giving on Thursday, May 4. Donations ending in a “2” (for example, $102) will go to SCUA.
Donors can visit bigdayofgiving.org or attend Big Day of Giving festivities at the Sacramento Poetry Center, 1719 25th St., from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. that day.
Sac State has significant ties to the Poetry Center, particularly through its membership.
Dennis Schmitz, professor emeritus of English, was the city’s first poet laureate (with Viola Weinberg), in 2000. The late José Montoya, professor emeritus of art and co-founder of the Royal Chicano Air Force art collective, also was Sacramento poet laureate, from 2002 to 2004. And current president Bob Stanley, Sacramento’s poet laureate from 2009 to 2012, teaches freshman composition and creative writing, and manages the University Reading and Writing Center.
In addition, other Sac State faculty, along with students and staff, have published through the center and read at its events, Kautzman says.
“The Poetry Center is a place where poetry is at the forefront of what we do, from readings to publications,” Stanley says. “It’s where poets can read and be heard.”
Sacramento State received 10 oversized boxes of material from the Poetry Center, much of it stored in members’ garages for years.
“Having this collection allows us not only to document poetry and writing in our region, but to preserve it, and to make it available for research,” says SCUA librarian James Fox. “Often, with centers like this, the records don’t get saved. Our role is to continue to build a collection that is relevant to students and faculty.”
The Sacramento Poetry Center Collection joins other significant holdings in SCUA, including the Japanese American Archival Collection, the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection, and the Magnus Hirschfeld Collection.
“The department makes conscious decisions on what is added to its collections,” Kautzman says. “Archives allow the Library to collect and make available important markers in our society: collections that decades from now will tell the story of our culture, what we value, and what represents us. I am excited that our city’s creative history will be accessible to all, here at Sacramento State.” – Dixie Reid