ARC awarded grant for “Poetry and the Senses” program

Arts Research Center Partners with Engaging the Senses Foundation
to Fund Poetry Program at UC Berkeley

[BERKELEY, CA October 7, 2019 ––] 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. The $335,000 gift is the largest received in ARC’s 20-year history. Arts & Humanities Dean, Anthony J. Cascardi, notes that, “This new partnership will enable the Arts Research Center to explore the deep connections between poetry, in its broadest sense, and the full spectrum of human experience in body and mind. It’s a milestone for the Center and bodes well for its future. I could not be happier that Engaging the Senses Foundation has decided to support this work!

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, Director of the Arts Research Center, and an Advisory Board.  Bryan-Wilson states: “We are thrilled to embark on this endeavor with the Engaging the Senses Foundation. Our emphasis will be on creating a horizontal model of collaboration that builds on a thriving Bay Area poetry scene and emphasizes how poetry continues to matter as a political and ethical resource.”

Poetry and the Senses will create meaningful opportunities for engagement, research, and collaboration. 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. The groups will also work toward 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. A call for the 2020 working group cohort will go out October 10, 2019.

The working group will be competitively comprised of eight people each year: two UC Berkeley faculty members, two UC Berkeley graduate students, two UC Berkeley undergraduate students, and two emerging or established poets from the wider Bay Area poetry community. All participants will receive a generous stipend, students will receive course credit, and the faculty will receive course relief (one course per year).

Engaging the Senses Foundation celebrates and promotes the power of the arts and conscious engagement with our senses to move human beings from habitual, everyday reality into a state of mindfulness. As a foundation working with programs, educational outreach and films that fulfill this mandate, Chief Executive Officer and Cal Alumna (‘76 College of Letters & Science) Mona Abadir reflects, “We are thankful for the insightful leadership and development of this collaborative partnership which will stimulate creative engagement for UC Berkeley participants and the general public. It is not only timely, but essential to ‘illuminate the intersection of Art and Mindfulness’ to understand and resolve the crucial issues of our lives and the world.”

The Arts Research Center will celebrate the program’s launch with Poetry and the Senses: Readings and Conversation on Thursday, October 10, 5:30-7:30pm at Morrison Library, located inside Doe Library on the UC Berkeley campus (see event details below). The evening will feature Bay Area poet/performer Indira Allegra, UC Berkeley faculty and former Stegner Fellow Chiyuma Elliott, and UC Berkeley faculty and former US Poet Laureate Robert Hass. The event is free and open to the public, seating first-come first served.

More information can be found on the Arts Research Center website:

Contact:  Laurie Macfee, Program Manager