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Poetry Center


Contact Poetry Center  

Poetry Center

720 South High Street 
Main Hall, Rm 151
West Chester, PA 19383

Phone: 610-436-2598 

The Poetry Center offers a variety of programs and activities that
help expand its mission of bringing poetry to an ever-widening audience.

The Poetry Center administers the following awards and activities:

  • Iris N. Spencer Poetry Awards, including the Donald Justice Poetry Prize,
    the Iris N. Spencer Undergraduate Poetry Award, the Myong Cha Son Haiku Award,
    Wil Mills, and the Rhina Espaillat Award.
    To learn more about each award visit the Contests and Awards page.
  • Poet-in-residence
  • Poetry reading series
  • Mini-conferences on topics related to poetic craft.
  • Art song concerts in collaboration with WCU's School of Music and Performing Arts.

The West Chester University Poetry Center offers an active, interesting, and diverse slate of activities.
We invite you to join us and discover the joys of poetry.

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the West Chester University Poetry Conference and
National Poetry Month, this year's conference will be held April 2-4, 2020 with Poet
Molly Peacock as Keynote Speaker.

Stay tuned to this website for more information and updates.

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Mission Statement

The West Chester University Poetry Center was created in 2000 to further the study and appreciation of poetry. The goals of the Poetry Center are to:

  • provide the nation's finest instruction in the diverse traditional techniques of poetry.

  • provide an international forum for the discussion of poetic form and prosody.

  • train teachers in the art of teaching poetry and poetic form.

  • foster the necessary dialogue between practicing poets and critics in a culture that too often separates them.

  • recognize poetic achievement through the Iris N. Spencer Awards.

  • illustrate the important connections between contemporary poetry and fine printing.

Poetry Conference Fiscal Review

Poetry Center Advisory Board

The West Chester University Poetry Center Advisory Board supports the overall objectives of the West Chester University Poetry Center, including the Iris N. Spencer Poetry Awards, through promotional and fund raising activities.

Board members are identified and recommended by the members of the WCU Poetry Center Advisory Board and the Program Director of the Poetry Center in consultation with the West Chester University Advancement Office. All appointments to the Board are approved and made by the President of West Chester University. The Board is composed of members/advocates of the arts community, University alumni, and local and national business and civic leaders.

Current Board Members:
Kean Spencer, President
Jesse Waters, Poetry Center Director
K. Hyoejin Yoon, Senior Associate Dean
Rhina Espaillat
Dana Gioia
Urs Joho
George Reitnour
Kyle Spencer

WCU Faculty Advisory Committee


The Faculty Advisory Committee’s purpose is to support the mission of the WCU Poetry Center, as articulated in its founding NEH endowment grant: "to create an environment in which humanities and arts are integrated, and focused on the broader implications of Poetry".

Specifically, the committee’s charge is to:

  • Work with the Program Director to integrate the activities of the Poet-in-Residence and other visiting poets by helping to design the events and facilitate connections to classes, coursework, academic calendar, student organizations, faculty/student research, etc.

  • Advise the Program Director and Dean on WCU faculty and student priorities and how they can be addressed through the Poetry Center’s activities.

  • Ensure the participation of WCU faculty and students by supporting and promoting the Poetry Center’s activities.

Current Faculty Advisory Committee Members: 
Kristin Ervin, English 
Len Kelly, Theatre and Dance 
Ruth Porritt, Philosophy 
Kate Stewart, Art + Design
Kris Benedict, Art + Design 
Eirini Panagiotidou, English; Linguistics
Gloria Hernandez, Languages and Cultures

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