Off-Site Exhibition


Poetry is part of our lives in everything from spoken word to interactive computer software, and embodies the organization of language as a creative act. Poetry also holds aesthetic and evocative qualities because of the way the words are presented on the page. Whether read quietly to oneself or performed aloud, the meaning of a poem is created through collaboration between author and audience.

California poetry has a long history with notable poets from prevailing movements in connection with the national and international stage of literature. The arrival of people during the Gold Rush brought with it a long series of important literary movements that have been integral to the culture of California such as the San Francisco Renaissance, Beats, and “stand-up-poetry”—a precursor to spoken word.

The recent rise of spoken word poetry is part of the ebb and flow of popularity of art forms. It connects the oral traditions of monologues, poetry and stories as a means for people to express their views and ideas outside the publishing and academic worlds. Spoken word poets interact with the audience through stage presence in performance of their poetry rather than through written language.

Groups like Poetry Flash, Youth Speaks, and Poetry Inside/Out work to bring poetry and its processes to people at all levels and interests in different ways. It is organizations like these that continue the poetic tradition within California, and in turn share it with the world.

Curated by the Oakland Museum of California Professional Services Division.