To train myself, in the midst of a burning world,
to offer poems of love to a burning world.
– Katie Farris


Poetry & the Senses

Flash Reading Series

April – May 2021

Weekly Releases


In the continued changing times of the COVID-19 pandemic, ARC took the idea of a poetry festival and spread it out over a semester, online. During National Poetry Month—April 2021—we piloted a new Flash Reading Series featuring two dozen Bay Area community poets responding to our theme of emerge/ncy. In addition to larger monthly readings (here), this series extended the idea of voices we wanted 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.


Featured poets:

Kim Addonizio, Bahaar Ahsan, Ari Banias,

William Brewer, MK Chavez, Jennifer Cheng,

Sophia Dahlin, Jennifer Foerster, C.S. Giscombe,

Brenda Hillman, Jane Hirshfield, Leena Joshi,

Raina Leon, Choi Lindsay, Thea Matthews,

Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Brittany Perham, D.A. Powell,

Barbara Reyes, Rachel Richardson, sam sax,

Kim Shuck, Juliana Spahr, and D’mani Thomas.


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 having participated in this celebration of community, for helping us think through and within crisis, understanding 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.

This Flash Reading Series was part of ARC’s Poetry & the Senses initiative, funded by Engaging the Senses Foundation.


May 5th, 2021

MK Chavez


MK Chavez is a Black Latinx writer and educator. She is the author of Dear Animal and several chapbooks. Chavez curates the reading series Lyrics & Dirges, is co-director of the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and poetry editor at Bronzeville Quarterly. She is a recipient of the PEN Oakland Award and the 2021 San Francisco Foundation/Nomadic Press literary award. You can find her recent work at the Academy of Poets Poem-A-Day series and at Golden Gate Park among the trees with the Voice of Trees projects. 

Watch her reading here.

C. S. Giscombe

C. S. Giscombe is a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a poet and essayist, and his recognitions include the Stephen Henderson Award, an American Book Award, the Carl Sandburg Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fund for Poetry, the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars, and the Canadian Embassy. His recent books include Prairie StyleOhio Railroads, and Border Towns.  Similarly—collected poetry and new work—will appear in 2021 as will Train Music, a work in collaboration with the artist Judith Margolis.

Watch his reading here.

Barbara Jane Reyes

Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of Letters to a Young Brown Girl (BOA Editions, Ltd., 2020).
She was born in Manila, Philippines, raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is also the author Gravities of Center (Arkipelago Books, 2003), Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2005), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, Diwata (BOA Editions, Ltd., 2010), which received the Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry, To Love as Aswang (Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc., 2015), and Invocation to Daughters (City Lights Publishers, 2017).
Her seventh book, Wanna Peek Into My Notebook?: Notes on Pinay Liminality, is forthcoming from Paloma Press in 2022.
Image by Peter Dressel.

Watch her reading here.

Rachel Richardson

Rachel Richardson is the author of two books of poems, Copperhead (2011) and Hundred-Year Wave (2016), and her poems have appeared in the New York Times, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, and elsewhere. A former Wallace Stegner and NEA Fellow, she co-directs the community literary arts center Left Margin LIT and serves as Poetry Advisor to the Bay Area Book Festival. She lives in Berkeley. 

Watch her reading here.


April 27th, 2021

Bahaar Ahsan

Bahaar Ahsan is a poet in the Bay Area. Her first chapbook, Gay Girl Hyacinth, is forthcoming from Eyelet.

Watch her reading here.

Ari Banias


Ari Banias is the author of the forthcoming A Symmetry (W. W. Norton, 2021), and Anybody (2016). His recent poems appear in bæst, The Nation, The Rumpus, and in We Want it All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics (Nightboat, 2020). He lives in Oakland. Banias’ poem “Practice” first appeared in Kenyon Review.
Image by Chani Bockwinkel.

Watch his reading here.

Jennifer Foerster

Jennifer Elise Foerster is the author of two books of poetry, Leaving Tulsa (2013) and Bright Raft in the Afterweather (2018), and served as the Associate Editor of the recently released When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry. She received her PhD in English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver and her MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts; she is an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is the recipient of a NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford. Jennifer currently teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop and is the Literary Assistant to the U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo. She Foerster grew up living internationally, is of European (German/Dutch) and Mvskoke descent, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. She lives in San Francisco. Photo by Richard Blue Cloud Castaneda.

Watch her reading here.

Leena Joshi

Leena Joshi is an artist, writer, and educator. Their recent written work can be found in SFMOMA’s Open Space, the Berkeley Poetry Review, and Monday: the Jacob Lawrence Gallery Journal, among others. Their MFA thesis exhibition will be on display at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) May 14 to June 20, 2021.

Watch their reading here.

D. A. Powell

D. A. Powell‘s books include Repast (Graywolf, 2014) and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Graywolf, 2012). His honors include two Northern California Book Awards, the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and the 2019 John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. He teaches at University of San Francisco. Photo by Ben Decastro (taken at Ferlinghetti’s 100th birthday party).

Watch his reading here.


April 19th, 2021

Kim Addonizio

Kim Addonizio is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose. Her most recent poetry collection is Now We’re Getting Somewhere (W.W. Norton). Her memoir-in-essays, Bukowski in a Sundress, was published by Penguin. She has received NEA and Guggenheim Fellowships, Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and the essay, and her poetry has been widely translated and anthologized. Tell Me was a National Book Award Finalist in poetry. She lives in Oakland, CA. https://www.kimaddonizio.com
Image credit: Johnna Crawford

Watch her reading here.

Brittany Perham

Brittany Perham is the author of Double Portrait (W.W. Norton, 2017), which received the Barnard Women Poets Prize and was nominated for a Northern California Book Award; The Curiosities (Free Verse Editions, 2012); and, with Kim Addonizio, the collaborative chapbook The Night Could Go in Either Direction (SHP, 2016). She is a Jones Lecturer in the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University. She lives in San Francisco.
Image credit: Marco Giugliarelli for Civitella Ranieri Foundation

Watch her reading here.

Sophia Dahlin

Sophia Dahlin is a poet in Oakland. She teaches generative poetry workshops, and co-edits the chapbook press Eyelet. Her first book, Natch, is out now from City Lights.
Image credit: Brooke Cena

Watch her reading here.

Thea Matthews

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Thea Matthews is a poet, author, and educator. She attained her BA in Sociology at UC Berkeley, where she studied and taught June Jordan’s program Poetry for the People led by Aya de Leon. Her debut poetry collection Unearth [The Flowers] was published June 2020 by Red Light Lit Press and is listed as part of the Best Indie Poetry of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews. She has work in The New RepublicAtlanta Review, The Rumpus, and others. Currently, Thea Matthews is a MFA Poetry candidate at New York University. 

Watch her reading here.

Raina J. León

Raina J. León, PhD is Black, Afro-Boricua, and from Philadelphia.  She is a mother, daughter, sister, madrina, comadre, partner, poet, writer, and teacher educator. She believes in collective action and community work, the profound power of holding space for the telling of our stories, and the liberatory practice of humanizing education. She seeks out communities of care and craft and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Macondo, and Círculo de Poetas and Writers She is the author of three collections of poetry, Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn, and sombra: dis(locate) and the chapbooks, profeta without refuge and Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self. Her next book, black god mother this body, will be released with Black Freighter Press. Her poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and scholarly work has been published in well over 100 journals and anthologies. She is a virtual member of The Ruby in San Francisco and a board member of the SF Writers Grotto, Daraja Academy, and Making Us Matter. She also is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She educates our present and future agitators/educators as a full professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California, only the third Black person (all Black women) and the first Afro-Latina to achieve that rank there. She is also a creative arts practitioner and co-learner, holding space in various communities. She is passionate about Afro-futurism, genealogy and walking in relationship with our ancestors, ecopoetics, writing for change, writing for healing and health, and mothering.
Image credit:   Matteo Monchiero

Watch her reading here.

April 12th, 2021

Kim Shuck

Kim Shuck was the 7th Poet Laureate of San Francisco. Shuck is solo author of seven books of prose and poetry. Her latest, a chapbook, is Whose Water? from Mammoth Publications, and the most recent full length book is Deer Trails from The City Lights Foundation. Shuck has won awards in the US and in the UK, the latest is a Groundbreaker award from the Northern California Book Reviewers.
Image credit: Douglas A. Salin.

Watch her reading here.

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield’s ninth poetry collection, Ledger (Knopf, 2020), centers on the crises of biosphere and social justice. Other books include two now-classic books of essays, Nine Gates and Ten Windows. Hirshfield has been long-listed for the National Book Award, and received the Poetry Center and California Book Awards, fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts, and ten selections for The Best American Poetry. A former chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and founder of Poets For Science, Hirshfield is a 2019 elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Image credit: Curt Richter

Watch her reading here.

William Brewer

William Brewer’s debut novel, The Red Arrow, is forthcoming from Knopf in 2022.  I Know Your Kind, his book of poems, was a winner of the National Poetry Series. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, The Sewanee Review, and The Best American Poetry. Formerly a Stegner Fellow, he is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University. He lives in Oakland.

Watch his reading here.

Geoffrey G. O’Brien


Geoffrey G. O’Brien’s latest book is Experience in Groups (Wave, 2018). He is also the author most recently of People on Sunday (Wave, 2013) and the coauthor (with John Ashbery and Timothy Donnelly) of Three Poets (Minus A Press, 2012). O’Brien is a Professor of English at UC Berkeley and also teaches for Mount Tamalpais College (formerly the Prison University Project) at San Quentin State Prison.

Watch his reading here.

최 Lindsay

최 Lindsay is a poet and translator working between English, Korean, and Swedish. They are the author of a book of poetry, Transverse (Futurepoem, 2021), and a chapbook, Matrices (speCt! books, 2017). They are a Kundiman fellow and a Ph.D. student in English literature at UC Berkeley. More of their work can be found in Omniverse, Amerarcana, and Aster(ix) Journal, and elsewhere. Recent projects include a creative manuscript in and out of translation on the colonial history of leprosy in Korea. They are a founding co-editor, with Noah Ross, of the chapbook press MO(O)ON/IO. Their work has been translated to French, and will appear in the forthcoming issue of NIOQUES, 22/23: Nouvelle Poésie Des États-Unis (New U.S. Poetry), edited by DoubleChange Collective, and translated by Abigail Lang. Visit them at lindsaychoi.com.


Watch their reading here.

April 6th, 2021

sam sax

sam sax is a queer, jewish, writer & educator. The author of Madness winner of The National Poetry Series and ‘Bury It’ winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. They’re the two time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion with poems published in The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, & Granta and elsewhere. They’ve received fellowships from The Poetry Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts Stanford University, and currently lives in Oakland and dreams about having a dog.

Watch their reading here.

D’mani Thomas

D’mani Thomas is a queer, Black visual theorist, horror enthusiast, and writer from Oakland, California (Ohlone territory). D’mani has received fellowships from The Watering Hole, Foglifter literary journal, and Afro Urban Society. His work has been published by The Auburn Avenue, The Ana, MARY: A Journal of New Writing and his poem, “Survival Tactics” was recently shortlisted for the 2020 Penrose Poetry Prize. His current work obsesses over what it means to create intimacy under total surveillance.

Watch his reading here.

Brenda Hillman

Brenda Hillman is the author of ten collections of poetry from Wesleyan University Press, including Extra Hidden Life, Among the Days (2018). She has edited and co-translated numerous books, most recently At Your Feet by Ana Cristina Cesar— co-translated with her mother, Helen Hillman. She currently serves as a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets, co-directs the Poetry Program of the Community of Writers and teaches at Saint Mary’s College of California. https://
blueflowerarts.com/artist/brenda-hillman/

Image credit: Robert Hass

Watch her reading here.

Jennifer S. Cheng


Jennifer S. Cheng’s book MOON: LETTERS, MAPS, POEMS was selected by Bhanu Kapil for the Tarpaulin Sky Award and named a Publishers Weekly “Best Book of 2018.” She is also the author of HOUSE A, selected by Claudia Rankine for the Omnidawn Poetry Prize, and INVOCATION: AN ESSAY, an image-text chapbook. She is a 2019-20 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow and has received awards from Brown University, the University of Iowa, San Francisco State University, the U.S. Fulbright program, Kundiman, Bread Loaf, and the Academy of American Poets. www.jenniferscheng.com

Watch her reading here.

Juliana Spahr

Juliana Spahr’s most recent book is Du Bois’s Telegram: Literary Resistance and State Containment.

Watch her reading here.