It is breath
that makes the tragic endurable.
Terrance Hayes

UC Berkeley’s Arts Research Center (ARC) will spend the next year exploring Poetry and the Senses, thanks to a generous grant from Engaging the Senses Foundation.

Poetry and the Senses creates meaningful opportunities for engagement, research, and collaboration. As a think tank for the arts at UC Berkeley, ARC acts as a facilitator and connector between the campus and the many flourishing regional poetry communities. This ongoing 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.

Modeled on the pre-existing ARC Fellows Program, the core of the grant funds horizontal working groups that bring together UC Berkeley faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and local community poets. Each group will convene over a semester to share creative work, research, discussion, and critique, organized around a wide-ranging theme.

The theme for Spring 2021 is 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?

Find out about our current and past fellows, here.

To read our press release, please click here.

Find more about our events here, and more on our fellowship program here.

Poetry and the Senses is overseen by Julia Bryan-Wilson, ARC Director, and managed by Laurie Macfee, ARC Program Director. (more here) For more information or questions, please email To contact Laurie directly, please email