It is breath
that makes the tragic endurable.
– Terrance Hayes

Poetry & the Senses creates meaningful opportunities for engagement, research, and collaboration.

The Arts Research Center is dedicated to exploring Poetry & the Senses, thanks to a generous multi-year grant from Engaging the Senses Foundation. As a think tank for the arts at UC Berkeley, ARC acts as a facilitator and connector between campus and the many flourishing regional poetry communities. This initiative 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.

Modeled on the ARC Fellows Program, the core of the grant funds horizontal working groups that bring together UC Berkeley faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and Bay Area community poets. Each group convenes over a semester to share creative work, research, discussion, and critique, organized around a wide-ranging theme. Events offer a chance to broaden the conversation, and each cohort will have a chapbook published of work created on fellowship.

The theme for Spring 2021 was emerge/ncy. 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? The theme for fall 2021 is coexistence.

Find out about our current and past fellows, here.

Info on our events here.

More on our poetry fellowship here.

Check out fellows’ publications, video readings, and work made here.

To read our press release, please click here.

Poetry & the Senses is overseen by Julia Bryan-Wilson, ARC Director, and managed by Laurie Macfee, ARC Program Director (more here). Our Poetry Advisory Board members can be found here. For more information or questions, please email Laurie directly, at