Poetry and the Senses


Poetry is not a luxury.
–Audre Lorde


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.

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? Poetry and the Senses is overseen by Julia Bryan-Wilson, ARC Director, and managed by Laurie Macfee, ARC Program Manager. For more information or questions, please email arcpoetry@berkeley.edu. To contact Laurie directly, please email macfee@berkeley.edu.

To read our press release, please click here.