The Morton Marcus Poetry Reading is an annual event series in honor of the late poet, teacher, and film critic. For 14 years, the series has been instrumental in bringing prominent poets to Santa Cruz County, acknowledging the significant role poetry plays in our community, and maintaining poetry’s influence in the local community culture. Free of charge and open to the public, the Morton Marcus Poetry Reading has ensured that poetry remains accessible to all—just as Mort would have wished.
The Morton Marcus Poetry Reading series was established in 2009 by Mort’s family and friends to honor his memory and to celebrate our community’s connection to poetry, the connection between poets across the nation, and the connection to the future in poetry that Santa Cruz continues to lead.
Originally cohosted by Cabrillo College and UC Santa Cruz with readings at each campus in alternating years, the series moved to The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz in 2015. The lecture series has continued to blossom and is now an impressive and thriving campus event that draws high-profile poets and several hundred attendees each year.
Born in New York City, Morton Marcus spent most of his professional life in Santa Cruz County where he is closely associated with its poetry and art community. He published 11 volumes of poetry, a book of translations, a novel, and a memoir. Mort taught literature, creative writing, and film history at Cabrillo College for over 30 years.
More than 500 of his poems have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies.
Mort invited poets from around the country to read poetry at venues throughout Santa Cruz County and would interview them on KUSP’s The Poetry Show, where he was a host. The guest poets were a veritable roll call of many of the best American poets of the twentieth century including Gary Snyder, Robert Bly, Adrienne Rich, William Everson, George Hitchcock, Robin Magowan, Ray Carver, and other such luminaries. Recordings of more than 200 of these interviews are now available online as part of the Morton Marcus Poetry Archive housed in the UC Santa Cruz Library Special Collections.
Elevate poetry and the Morton Marcus legacy
The Annual Morton Marcus Poetry Reading is made possible through contributions from generous community members like you. Multi-year pledges or monthly gifts provide financial stability, allowing the series to invite more distinguished and prominent poets. Your philanthropic support will help us continue to honor and celebrate Mort’s memory and enrich our lives deeply through exceptional poetry. Please make your gift today.
For more information on how you can support the Annual Morton Marcus Poetry Reading please contact:
Senior Director of Development, Humanities Division
University of California, Santa Cruz
November 2, 2023: Dr. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
November 3, 2022: Natasha Trethewey
November 18, 2021: Gary Young
November 12, 2020: Morgan Parker
November 7, 2019: Gary Soto
November 15, 2018: Gary Snyder
November 16, 2017: Dorianne Laux
November 3, 2016: Joseph Stroud
November 12, 2015: Al Young
November 13, 2014: Peter Everwine and Chuck Hanzlicek
November 6, 2013: Naomi Shihab Nye
November 10, 2012: Arthur Sze
November 20, 2011: Kay Ryan
November 6, 2010: Robert Hass