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

Poetry & the Senses creates meaningful opportunities for engagement, research, and collaboration. Begun in January 2020, this multi-year 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.

Cave Canem Reading

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.

Image: Chi Elliott, Cameron Awkward-Rich, Morgan Parker, Cornelius Eady, and Vincente Perez at the Celebrating Cave Canem Reading.

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, including readings featuring Cameron Awkward-Rich, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Natalie Diaz, Camille Dungy, Cornelius Eady, Safia Elhillo, Chiyuma Elliott, Ross Gay, Joy Harjo, Terrance Hayes, Lyn Hejenian, Aja Monet, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Morgan Parker, Craig Santos Perez, Danez Smith, Patricia Smith, and Simone White. Each cohort will have a chapbook published of work created on fellowship.

Image: 2021/22 fellows

The theme for 2021/2022 is coexistence.

The word coexistence has a spatial component, and implies the sharing of space or cohabitation within overlapping territories; it also has a temporal dimension, suggesting simultaneous presence with others in the same moment in time. We seek fellows whose work engages capaciously with issues of mutuality, synchronicity, interdependence, and care – from enlivening exchanges between beings, to the porous line between animate and inanimate, to the challenges of living together on our planet, to the uncanny shivers of coincidence.

Image: Flash Readings

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 Associate Director (more here). Our Poetry Advisory Board members can be found here. For more information or questions, please email Laurie directly, at