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Dr. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – Morton Marcus Poetry Reading

November 2, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm  |  Cultural Center at Merrill


Please join us for the 14th annual Morton Marcus Poetry Reading, featuring honored guest Dr. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Poet Gary Young will host the program, and the evening will include an announcement of the winner of the Morton Marcus Poetry Contest (recipient receives a $1,000 prize).


Seating will be first come, first served. Registration required.

Dr. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author, poet, activist and professor. She is the author of 20 books including Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, Oleander Girl, Before We Visit the Goddess and Palace of Illusions. Her latest novels are The Forest of Enchantments, a feminist retelling of the epic The Ramayana in the voice of Sita, and The Last Queen, the story of Maharani Jindan, the indomitable queen regent of Punjab who fought the British in many ingenious ways. Divakaruni often writes about contemporary life in America and India, women’s experiences, immigration, history, magical realism and mythology.

Gary Young is the author of several collections of poetry. His most recent books are That’s What I Thought, winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award from Persea Books, and Precious Mirror, translations from the Japanese. His other books include Even So: New and Selected Poems; Pleasure; No Other Life, winner of the William Carlos Williams Award; Braver Deeds, winner of the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize; Days; The Dream of a Moral Life, which won the James D. Phelan Award; and Hands. He has received a Pushcart Prize, and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, and the Vogelstein Foundation, among others. In 2009 he received the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. Young was the first Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz County, and in 2012 he was named Santa Cruz County Artist of the Year. Since 1975 he has designed, illustrated, and printed limited edition letterpress books and broadsides at his Greenhouse Review Press. His fine print work is represented in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Getty Museum, and special collection libraries throughout the U.S. and Europe. He teaches creative writing and directs the Cowell Press at UC Santa Cruz.

This event is a part of the Fall UCSC Living Writers course, which features poets, novelists, academics, curators, and artists in conversation with one another, in person, across genre and media.

Parking information: The Merrill Cultural Center is located in Merrill College, in the northeast corner of the campus core. Those walking or arriving by Metro bus or campus shuttle can take the steep path heading northeast from the Crown/Merrill bus stop.

For those driving from the Main Entrance, stay on Coolidge Drive. Shortly after Coolidge turns left and becomes McLaughlin Drive, turn right at the sign for Merrill College. At the top of the hill, veer right. There are ParkMobile parking spaces along the left side of the lot, and parking for “A,” “B,” and “C” permits along the right. There are two accessible parking spaces if you turn left at the top of the hill and two more if you turn right. Parking attendants will be on site to sell parking permits to event attendees.

Purchase both poets works at:

The Morton Marcus Poetry Reading honors poet, teacher, and film critic Morton Marcus (1936–2009). Marcus was the 1999 Santa Cruz County Artist of the Year and a recipient of the 2007 Gail Rich Award. Among his published works are eleven volumes of poetry, including The Santa Cruz Mountain Poems, Pages from a Scrapbook of Immigrants, Moments Without Names, Shouting Down the Silence, Pursuing the Dream Bone and The Dark Figure In The Doorway; a novel, The Brezhnev Memo; and a literary memoir, Striking Through the Masks. He taught English and Film at Cabrillo College for thirty years, was the co-host of the radio program, The Poetry Show, and was the co-host of the television film review show, Cinema Scene. Learn more at:

The Morton Marcus Poetry Archive can be found at UCSC Special Collections. Mort’s personal papers, manuscripts, and recordings reflect his legacy as a poet and educator, and his collection of poetry books, broadsides, literary magazines and correspondence with other poets and writers illuminate his deep involvement in, and passion for, the literary art of poetry.

Organizing Committee: Danusha Laméris, Donna Mekis, Mark Ong, Maggie Paul, Catherine Segurson, David Sullivan, Irena Polić, Teresa Mora, and Gary Young.

The Morton Marcus Poetry Contest: phren-Z, an online literary magazine, whose mission is to celebrate the Santa Cruz literary community, has established a national poetry contest, The Morton Marcus Poetry Prize, in honor of Morton Marcus, “whose life and work inspired the writing of many students, friends, and emerging poets.” This years contest will be judged by Maggie Paul. For more information visit:

Support Poetry in Santa Cruz: The Annual Morton Marcus Poetry Reading is made possible due to campus and community co-sponsorships and generous contributions from members of our community, like you. To ensure we can continue to offer this poetry reading free and open to the public in honor and memory of Morton Marcus, and to have our lives deeply enriched by exceptional poetry, please consider making a gift to The Morton Marcus Poetry Reading Fund:

This community event is presented by the The Humanities Institute and co-sponsored by:

Bookshop Santa Cruz
Cabrillo College English Department
Cowell College
Donna F. Mekis
Center for South Asian Studies.
Living Writers Series
Ow Family Properties
Merrill College
Poetry Santa Cruz
Porter Hitchcock Modern Poetry Fund
Porter College
Santa Cruz Writes
Side By Side Press
Special Collections & Archives

If you have disability-related needs, please contact us at or call 831-459-1274 by October 26th, 2023.


November 2, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Cultural Center at Merrill
Merrill Cultural Center, UC Santa Cruz, Merrill College
Santa Cruz, CA 95064 United States
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