Poetry and the Senses

Poetry and the Senses Program


UC Berkeley’s Arts Research Center (ARC) will spend the next two years exploring Poetry and the Senses, thanks to a generous grant from Engaging the Senses Foundation.

Poetry and the Senses will create meaningful opportunities for engagement, research, and collaboration. As a think tank for the arts at UC Berkeley, ARC will act as a facilitator and connector between the campus and the many flourishing regional poetry communities. This two-year initiative (Jan 2020 – Dec 2021) explores the relevance and urgency of lyrical making and storytelling in times of political crisis, and the value of engaging the senses as an act of care, mindfulness, and resistance. Poetry and the Senses will be overseen by Julia Bryan-Wilson, ARC Director.  To read our press release, please click here.

The program will encompass the following:

ARC Fellows Program:

Modeled on the pre-existing ARC Fellows Program, the core of the grant will fund working groups that bring together faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and local poets. Each group will convene over the course of a year to share creative work/research/discussion/critique, organized around a wide-ranging theme.

Every year:

-8 Fellows will be chosen, including 2 UC Berkeley Graduate Students, 2 UC Berkeley Undergraduate Students, 2 UC Berkeley Faculty (with course release for 1 semester), and 2 Community Poets.

-Stipends for each fellow are $5,000.

The theme for 2020 is emergency. What kinds of poetic modes of address might be recruited in times of global catastrophe? How does poetry help us think through and within crisis? “Emergency” implies urgency, sudden harm, life-threatening violence, and extreme circumstances, but embedded within it is the word “emergence;” suggesting rebirth and new beginnings. How can we understand moments of emergency as catalysts for renewal, as ruptures that signal massive—if painful—change?

Groups will also have the opportunity to meet with visiting writers, help organize public presentations/readings, a chapbook in partnership with a regional press and/or available free digitally, and a major festival/conference that is free and open to the public. Current applications are for a 1 year fellowship, January – December 2020. There will be a second cohort chosen in fall of 2020 for the 2021 year.

To apply, please fill out this application, and attach 1) a CV/resume, and 2) up to 4 samples of creative writing/poetry (6-8 pgs max) OR 1 scholarly writing sample (no more than 20 pgs). Applications close Friday, November 15 at 11:59pm pacific time.


The 2020 working group application is now live and can be viewed here. Completed applications are due November 15, 2019. Application FAQs available here.

Please note, the online application is a Google Form. If you do not have a Google Account, please email Laurie Macfee at macfee@berkeley.edu for further instructions.