12/4-6 | Poetry & the Senses/Poetry Festival


Poetry & the Senses/Poetry Festival – Emerge/ncy
December 4, 5, and 6

This festival will take place online
Please check later for the link


Celebrate the first-year of the Poetry & the Senses initiative with a weekend of readings, conversations, workshops, and a poetry slam. We will be announcing the final line-up in September, but are thrilled to have rescheduled Danez Smith and Patricia Smith to participate in the keynote kick-off! 

ARC’s Poetry & the Senses Festival is designed to create dialogue around our ongoing theme of Emergen/cy for local to national audiences, highlighting the relevance and urgency of lyrical making in times of crisis, and the value of poetry as an act of care, mindfulness, and resistance. It explores the connections between poetry, in its broadest sense across, as an ethical and political resource. Our motivating questions this year include: What kinds of poetic modes of address emerge in times of global catastrophe? How does poetry help us think through and within crises? “Emergency” implies 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? The festival will feature predominantly people of color, queer/trans, and under-represented/marginilized voices. With free and open online events, we hope to bring a university festival to a public that may not normally be able to attend, whether through geographic, disability, or economic realities. This event is generously underwritten in partnership with Engaging the Senses Foundation. More information on the website here.


Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award; they also wrote [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez’s work has been featured widely, appearing on platforms such as Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. Danez’s third collection, “Homie”, was published by Graywolf in January 2020. Find more at www.danezsmithpoet.com

Patricia Smith is the award-winning author of eight critically-acclaimed books of poetry, including Incendiary Art (Triquarterly Books, 2017), winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the 2018 NAACP Image Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was a  finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (Coffee House Press, 2012), winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press, 2008), a National Book Award finalist; and Gotta Go, Gotta Flow (CityFiles Press, 2015), a collaboration with award-winning Chicago photographer Michael Abramson. Her other books include the poetry volumes Teahouse of the Almighty (Coffee House Press, 2006), Close to Death (Zoland Books, 1998), Big Towns Big Talk (Zoland Books, 2002), Life According to Motown (Tia Chucha, 1991);  the children’s book Janna and the Kings (Lee & Low, 2013), and the history Africans in America (Mariner, 1999), a companion book to the award-winning PBS series. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Baffler, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Tin House and in Best American Poetry, Best American Essays and Best American Mystery Stories. She co-edited The Golden Shovel Anthology—New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks (University of Arkansas Press, 2017), and edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir (Akashic Books, 2012). Smith is a Guggenheim fellow, a Civitellian, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient, a finalist for the Neustadt Prize, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, a former fellow at both Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. Smith is a professor at the College of Staten Island and in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College, as well as an instructor at the annual VONA residency and in the Vermont College of Fine Arts Post-Graduate Residency Program.


About Poetry and the Senses: Poetry and the Senses creates meaningful opportunities for engagement, research, and collaboration. As a think tank for the arts at UC Berkeley, ARC acts 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.

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? 


This event is co-sponsored by the Engaging the Senses Foundation.