Poetry & the Senses: April 2021

Flash Reading Series

April – May 2021

Weekly Releases

Find the archive of readings here.

In the continued changing times surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, ARC took the idea of a poetry festival and spread it out over a semester, online. The theme for Poetry & the Senses during spring of 2021 has been emerge/ncy, and extended into the idea of voices we want to carry with us in imperiled times. We were interested in what is emergent or birthed at times of crisis, the voices that become maps, guideposts, and sustenance along the way.

In addition to larger monthly readings, we also invited 20 Bay Area poets to be a part of a new Flash Readings Series. Each featured poet gave a 3-5 minute reading of one of their poems, related in some way to the theme. These short readings are carried on our website and YouTube channel, and shared on social media. The Bay Area offers a rich, deep, and broad tapestry of voices – we could have easily have tripled the number of reading slots and still barely skimmed the surface of wonder and beauty that surrounds us. We are lucky and grateful to these poets for participating in this celebration of community, for helping us think through and within crisis, understand moments of emergency as catalysts for renewal, as ruptures that signal massive—if painful—change, and lean into the possibility of rebirth and new beginnings.

The theme for spring 2021 was emerge/ncy. Motivating questions included, 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? 

In case you missed them, we carried larger monthly readings online for the entire semester as well!

Links to ARC YouTube pages are provided on each past event listing.
Please check out February 2021’s reading with Safia Elhillo, Hieu Minh Nguyen, and Craig Santos Perez, and March 2021’s conversation with Terrance Hayes and Simone White. On April 26, we hosted a reading with Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Nathalie Diaz, and Aja Monet. The series ended with the Poetry & the Senses Fellow Reading on May 10, featuring: reelaviolette botts-ward, Vethea Cole, Elizabeth Feng, Sara Mumalo, Ramona Naddaff, Ken Ueno, Noah Warren, and Maw Shein Win. Tune in to celebrate ARC’s eight dynamic fellows and the work they created during their spring 2021 fellowship.

This event was part of the Arts Research Center’s Poetry & the Senses program, an ongoing initiative that 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. Funded by the Engaging the Senses Foundation.