San Francisco Renaissance poet, playwright, and painter Madeline Gleason was born in Fargo, North Dakota, and moved with her father to the West Coast following her mother’s death. She remained a San Francisco resident from the 1920s onward.

Gleason founded the San Francisco Poetry Guild and in 1947 organized the Festival of Modern Poetry, often cited as the first poetry festival in the United States, with readings by Kenneth Rexroth, Muriel Rukeyser, Jack Spicer, and Robert Duncan. At this festival, the San Francisco Renaissance poetry movement—a West Coast school of poetry aesthetically distinct from the Beats—began to coalesce.

Gleason’s poetry collections include The Metaphysical Needle (1949), Concerto for Bell and Telephone (1966), Here Comes Everybody: New & Selected Poems (1975), and the posthumously-published Collected Poems: 1919–1979 (1999), which contained several previously-unpublished poems and an essay by Gleason on her poetics. Her work was also included in Donald Allen’s classic anthology, The New American Poetry 1945–1960 (1960).

Employed by a brokerage firm for more than 20 years, Gleason also taught at the San Francisco State College Poetry Center. A selection of her papers is held by the Charles E. Young Research Library at the University of California at Los Angeles.