Students take on poetry projects

by Alek Sanchez, Staff Writer

For almost two decades, Poetry International has placed a spotlight on world class literature. Centered in San Diego but with a global appeal, Poetry International caters to an international community of poets.

Founded in 1997, Poetry International has published a wide range of voices, including Kim Addonizio, Robert Bly, Billy Collins, Wanda Coleman, Seamus Heaney, Edward Hirsch, Yusef Komunyakaa and Derek Walcott, among many others.

After a three-year hiatus, SDSU’s Poetry International returns to entertain readers with a special double issue with Issues 20 and 21.


This year’s issues feature 400 pages of finely curated pieces, from a wide range of talented poets’ works to contemporary book reviews and interviews with industry artists.

It even includes an international spotlight featuring translated works from underrepresented countries such as Cuba, Iraq and Vietnam.

For SDSU graduate assistant and master of fine arts student Janel Spencer, Poetry International represents a culmination of some of the world’s most talented modern poets.

“I love the opportunity it affords to make fantastic connections, at San Diego State University and with writers around the world,” Spencer said.

By working with Poetry International, Spencer is able to be a part of something she sees as bringing good poetry and good people together.

While its work reaches across the globe, Poetry International also resonates closer to home at SDSU.

Spencer’s favorite project has been a broadside collaboration between the Poetry International interns and SDSU Typography II art students. The project includes poems from the journal, as well as student poems, to create beautiful works of art.

Through their work at Poetry International, members are able to bring a curated selection of poetry to a global audience.

Poetry International also run a dynamic blog that includes translated pieces, interviews and poetry book reviews.


“Readers can expect to read carefully and beautifully crafted pieces of poetry,” SDSU master of fine arts graduate student Karen Marrujo said. “We love to publish poems from around the world, poems that reflect the diversity of poetic voices currently shaping our world. We want to share something in which our readers will find something they can take into themselves — something that not only brings them enjoyment, but also comfort and a sense of company.”

In addition to the literary journal, Poetry International has also focused on its hometown of San Diego through the creation of  nonprofit organization Poetic Youth.

The organization works to close the knowledge gap hindering underserved communities through providing free poetry and writing workshops with the help of SDSU graduate students and faculty.

According to the official Poetic Youth website, “Poetic Youth workshops focus on self-expression, imagination and character development, providing a transformative experience for everyone involved.”

“We admire the poets we get to publish,” Marrujo said. “We admire what they offer the world, and we are delighted to be able to create a way to make it accessible to others.”