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Gail Sher Collection

About the Collection

Since her first poetry publication in 1981 in a literary journal edited by Robert Bertholf, former curator of the Poetry Collection, Gail Sher has published over thirty books of poetry, three books on writing as a craft and a spiritual practice, and a book on bread making based on her years of experience at the San Francisco Zen Center’s bakery in San Francisco. Her books include From Another Point of View the Woman Seems to Be Resting (Trike Press, 1982), Broke Aide (Burning Deck, 1985), Kuklos (Paradigm Press, 1995), Marginalia (Rodent Press, 1997), One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers (Penguin, 1999), redwind daylong daylong (Night Crane Press, 2004), From a Baker’s Kitchen (20th anniversary edition, Marlowe & Co., 2004), and Five Haiku Narratives (Night Crane Press, 2015). Her writing has appeared in numerous literary magazines and journals, and her haiku has won awards in Japan and the U.S.

Underlying Sher’s work as a writer and therapist is her training in Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. In 1970 she was ordained as a lay disciple of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, the Zen master who helped spread Soto Zen Buddhism in the United States through his founding of the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and San Francisco Zen Center, monasteries where Sher practiced for eleven years. Both her writing and her counseling are deeply informed by a Buddhist approach to awareness. In her recent publication Poetry, Zen and the Linguistic Unconscious (2016), Sher writes that her “biggest responsibility to myself as a poet is to remain in the realm of the unknown. I don’t write what I already know…My writing arises, and I am constantly surprised by it.”

This digital collection features downloadable copies of almost all of Sher’s poetry books and magazine/anthology appearances as well as a 1982 video recording of her reading her early work. It complements the Poetry Collection’s Gail Sher Collection, which includes manuscripts of published and unpublished writings; correspondence between Sher and other poets and poet-editors; artwork; photographs; documentation of her published work, including many journals in which her poetry has appeared; and audio visual materials (finding aid). The poet also maintains her own website and can be contacted via

Gail Sher Bibliography

Poetry books by Gail Sher organized by phase

I. Radical language experiments, 1982-1997

II. Asian-influenced work, 1996-2008

III. The wisdom-mind collection, 2008-2013

IV. Late work, 2014-2020

All publications by Gail Sher organized by date, 1980-2020

Print copies of her books and the journals in which she has appeared are available in the Poetry Collection. Books published by Night Crane Press remain in print and can be ordered from any bookseller, including online sellers.

I. Prose books (print)

II. Poetry books (print)

III. Periodicals & anthologies

IV. About Gail Sher

Audio-video recordings

Dharma Talks

Gail Sher: "To those of you who have been drawn to Suzuki-roshi and maybe even own and have started to read Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind or Not Always So, I offer these talks by way of making what he teaches more accessible. Roshi has a way of saying things that are unexpected yet touch a nerve of truth. 'Yes,' you say, 'this is so, but I’ve never been able to say it so clearly.' His ability to articulate what lies between knowing and not knowing, or almost knowing, but not being about to practice in your life, is amazing and wonderful. One feels seen on a very deep level and wants more but isn’t quite sure what 'more' means or how to get it. 'What we learn we should teach,' Roshi has said. Having studied both with him and with him in my heart for fifty years, it is time to help others who feel intrigued yet mystified by his mind. To you I extend, in Roshi's words, 'a warm hand' that perhaps can make a difference." All of the dharma talks are available at

  • Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (September 13, 2020)
    1. Beginner's Mind. Video.

Gail Sher interviewed by James Maynard, March 19, 2018. Audio | Text.

Selections from the wisdom-mind series recorded May 11, 2017.

Gail Sher interviewed by Julia McCutchen on the Four Noble Truths for Conscious & Creative Writers, 2000. Audio.

Gail Sher interviewed by Connie Platt, KDTV Denver, on One Continuous Mistake, April 23, 1999. Video.

Gail Sher reads three poems at the Living Batch Bookstore, Albuquerque, 1986.

Gail Sher poetry reading and discussion, Niagara County Community College, 1985.

  • Introductory remarks. Video.
  • From Another Point of View the Woman Seems to Be Resting. Video | Text.
  • Discussion 1. Video.
  • (As) on things which (headpiece) touches the Moslem (1). Video | Text.
  • Discussion 2. Video | Text.
  • (As) on things which (headpiece) touches the Moslem (2). Video.
  • Discussion 3. Video.

Gail Sher poetry reading at the Poetry Center, San Francisco State University, September 30, 1982. Video | Text.