Poetry and the Senses has launched!

Poetry and the Senses has launched!

By: Lindsey Pannor, February 1, 2020

Poetry and the Senses has launched! This program has been in development since October of 2019 following the most generous grant in ARC’s history, courtesy of the Engaging the Senses Foundation. The two-year initiative kicked off this January and will continue throughout the year. 


The first cohort of eight writers and artists received year-long fellowships and came together for the first time in order to engage, collaborate, and create around this year’s theme of emergency. The group is composed of two undergraduate students, two graduate students, and two faculty members all from the UC Berkeley campus, as well as two members of the Bay Area’s poetry community at large. These eight incredible writers will meet in our working group twice monthly throughout the spring. They will workshop together to facilitate a communal writing environment and eventually craft a chapbook to be published at the end of their collaboration. In addition, they will have the opportunity to meet with visiting writers, help to organize public presentations and readings, and provide input on an upcoming public festival sponsored by the program. 

 The first of these public readings will take place tomorrow, 2/4, in the Morrison Library at UC Berkeley. As a celebration of the program’s launch, the event will feature readings from Indira Allegra, Chiyuma Elliott, and Lyn Hejinian. Future events will feature such prominent writers as Patricia Smith, Danez Smith, and Joy Harjo. More information is available here.

 A bit more about our fellows: the first of our undergraduates is Menat Allah El Attma (she/her), who is studying English Literature and Global Urban Humanities. She is interested in the artistic process and its relationship to the art object itself. Our second undergraduate fellow, Gracia Mwamba (she/her), is set to complete her degree in Art Practice this spring. Her interest lies in a conception of art as an accessible means of healing and social change.

 Our graduate fellows are Jared Robinson (he/him) and Jenif(f)er Tamayo (she/her). Robinson is pursuing his degree in Berkeley’s English department, where he specializes in the relationship between the transatlantic slave trade and Enlightenment philosophy through careful attention to early African-American literature and its reception. His poetry concerns life outside of academia. Tamayo is pursuing her PhD in Berkeley’s Performance Studies department, as well as researching how contemporary Black and Indigenous poets use vocal practices to counternarrate histories of colonial violence.

 Both of our faculty fellows, Alex Saum-Pascual (she/her) and Beth Piatote (she/her), are associate professors on the Berkeley campus. Saum-Pascual teaches Spanish in the Comparative Literature and Digital Humanities departments, and her work concerning digital media and literature in the Spanish-speaking world has been published widely. Piatote teaches in the Native American Studies department, where she specializes in many fields related to writing and Indiginous life.

 As many locals may know, Omnidawn is one of the most prominent publishing forces in the area, and both of our community fellows have ties there. Rusty Morrison (she/her) is, in fact, the co-founder of the organization, and has been co-publishing since 2001. She has had five works of poetry published, and occasionally teaches in various MFA settings. Natalie Khankan (she/her) has upcoming work to be published by Omnidawn in 2020, and her poetry has been published in multiple journals. She teaches in Berkeley’s Near Eastern Studies department.

 To learn more about our fellows and keep up with this year’s events, you can visit our Poetry and the Senses page. Applications for 2021 fellowships will open this fall.

Lindsey Pannor is a writer and researcher based in Berkeley, CA. She holds a B.A. in English—as well as minors in Creative Writing and Journalism—from the University of California, Berkeley. She has held editorial positions for multiple publications including Zyzzyva and the Berkeley Poetry Review. She is currently ARC’s Program Assistant.