Poetry in El Cerrito

City Launches New Poet Laureate Program

In October 2015, the Arts and Culture Commission established the Poet Laureate Program with funding from the City’s Arts in Public Places Program. After a competitive process, El Cerrito resident Maw Shein Win was selected to serve as the City's Poet Laureate (2016-2018).

Introducing Maw Shein Win

photo of Maw Shein WinMaw Shein Win is a Burmese American poet, editor, and educator who lives and works in the Bay Area. Her writing has appeared in many journals and several anthologies, including Cimarron Review, Fanzine, The Fabulist, and others. She was an Artist in Residence at Headlands Center for the Arts and is a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. She often collaborates with visual artists, musicians, and other writers, and her chapbook, Ruins of a glittering palace, was published by SPA/Commonwealth Projects. Her most recent poetry chapbook is Score and Bone on Nomadic Press in Oakland. Win’s poetry was featured in artist Megan Wilson’s mural, Flower Interruption, a public artwork in the special exhibition Flower Power at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum. Her full-length poetry collection, Invisible Gifts, will be published by Manic D Press in spring 2018; information about the April launch at City Lights Books is here.

Read Snapshot of El Cerrito, 2017, Maw's poem written for El Cerrito's Centennial.

Upcoming Poet Laureate Events

Poetry & Place | El Cerrito

"Poetry & Place | El Cerrito” is a poetry reading series that will happen in the spring, summer & fall, in different places throughout the city. The series will feature one poet from El Cerrito & one from a nearby city. There will also be an all ages open mic.

Poetry Reading on Sunday, May 20, 2018
El Cerrito Community Center (7007 Moeser Lane, El Cerrito)
1:30 pm - 5pm. Free

The spring Poetry & Place event will be hosted by El Cerrito poet laureate, Maw Shein Win, who will also read. Featured readers include Rafael Jesus Gonzalez, poet laureate of Berkeley; Indigo Moor, poet laureate of Sacramento; and Kim Shuck, poet laureate of San Francisco.

Music will be performed by three musicians who live in El Cerrito: Dan Plonsey, Ethan Port, and Thomas Scandura. The band's name is Moeser, and they will create a set of music specifically for the occasion.

An all-ages open mic will follow the music.

In addition, there will be tables for local authors, presses, and organizations such as Sixteen Rivers, Manic D Press, Nomadic Press, Work and Conversations, Left Margin Lit, Poetry Flash, and others. Snacks and beverages will be served and the event is free to the public.

The event will be in partnership with Poetry Flash, a key literary organization that has served the state of California since 1972.

See event on Facebook.

Program Goals

In October 2015, the Arts and Culture Commission unanimously agreed to establish a Poet Laureate Program funded by the City’s Art in Public Places Program. The Commission envisions that the laureate will create and lead activities that will raise the status of poetry in the everyday consciousness of El Cerrito residents and inspire writing and performances of poetry among all age groups.

The goals of the Poet Laureate Program are to:
• Promote literature and the arts in the City
• Inspire/encourage residents in their writing and personal expression
• Bring attention to poetry in less traditional settings
• Initiate a dialogue between local poets, cultural organizations, and community institutions

Keep In Touch

You can contact Poet Laureate Maw Shein Win directly by email.

You can also sign up to receive notifications from the Arts and Culture Commission about the Poet Laureate Program, other arts events and call to artist announcements.