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CLA's Reading Series

The Center for Literary Arts Reading Series is the premiere literary showcase of the South Bay, featuring an inclusive line-up of the most celebrated voices of contemporary American letters. 

We step into our 36th year as steadfast as ever, presenting 8 vital and dynamic literary evenings, running from September 2022 to May 2023. This year's lineup includes Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr; MacArthur Fellows, Ocean VuongJacqueline Woodson, and  Hanif Abdurraqib; Commonwealth Poetry Prize winner Shirley Geok-lin Lim; best-selling novelists C Pam ZhangVanessa Hua, and Kirstin Chen; Pen Literary Award recipient and 2023 Lurie Professor Jean Guerrero; and two-time awardee from American Academy of Arts and Letters, literary legend, Joy Williams.

Events will feature one or more of these acclaimed authors reading from and discussing their most recent books, followed by an onstage conversation with an invited guest, plus a book sale and signing. Most readings will be conducted in person and live streamed here on the homepage of on Thursday evenings at 7PM. 

Join us in celebrating some of the most innovative, most decorated writers working today and in honoring the ever enduring power of the written word.

The San José State College of Humanities and the Arts founded the CLA in 1986 with a mission to bring writers of contemporary literature to the South Bay community. For over three decades, we’ve continued that mission with a host of readings, conversations, seminars, and workshops featuring authors of exceptional vision and voice. Thank you for your interest in the literary arts. 

Click to download our 2022-2023 CLA Brochure.

Click to download our 2022-2023 CLA Bookmark.

“The Center for Literary Arts is an absolute jewel, bringing a diverse range of writers and readers together for conversations that enrich the artistic and cultural life of the Bay Area. The Center facilitates authentic community through gatherings that invite people to be reflective and to deepen themselves emotionally and intellectually. Its work is vital, and should be applauded and supported.”

— Jamel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man

The Martha Heasley Cox Lecture

A generous endowment created by San José State Professor Emeritus Martha Heasley Cox established an ongoing series to bring celebrated and influential authors to San José.


Previous Cox lecturers include J.M. Coetzee, E.L. Doctorow, Maxine Hong Kingston, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Ondaatje, Jayne Anne Phillips, Wallace Stegner, and Tobias Wolff. 

CLA/Mt. Pleasant Series

Each year, the CLA brings presentations by contemporary authors to Mt. Pleasant High School in San José’s East Side Union High School District.


Past authors include Dorothy Allison, Ernesto Cardenal, Andrew Sean Greer, ZZ Packer, Ishmael Reed, Mary Roach, Gary Soto, and Susan Straight. 

The James D. Houston Memorial Lecture 

To honor the California author and former Lurie Author-in-Residence, the annual James D. Houston Memorial Lecture brings emerging writers from diverse backgrounds to San José State.


Past Houston lecturers include Daniel Alarcón, Lan Samantha Chang, Yiyun Li, Chang-rae Lee, and Karen Tei Yamashita. 

The Lewandowski Family Poet

In honor of Frank and Dr. Mary Lou Lewandowski, the CLA celebrates poets whose work inspires and influences the next generation of poets.


Past Lewandowski Family poets include Claudia Rankine, Carmen Giménez Smith, Maggie Nelson, and D.A. Powell. 

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