Poetry & the Senses Fellows’ Reading
Wednesday December 9, 2020, 5:00-6:30 PST
This reading took place online.
Find the full recording here.
The Arts Research Center celebrated the 2020 Poetry Fellows with a year-end reading featuring: Menat Allah El Attma, Nathalie Khankan, Gracia Mwamba, Rusty Morrison, Beth Piatote, Jared Robinson, Alex Saum-Pascual, and Jenif(f)er Tamayo. This event was a part of ARC’s Poetry and the Senses initiative generously sponsored by Engaging the Senses Foundation.
ARC’s Poetry fellows spent the past 11 months in conversation, production, feedback, support, and critique; they shared work produced during their fellowship. This remarkable cohort weathered pandemic, political and social upheaval, and personal crises, and bravely continued to be present, hold space for their peers, and navigate their relationship to the work. When we thought of what we wanted to carry forward or with us in an emergency, their voices were at the top of the list.
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 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 was, aptly, emerge/ncy. Motivating questions have included, 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?
Menat Allah El Attma
Undergraduate Student Fellow
Menat Allah El Attma is an Egyptian Muslim woman, educator, writer, and visual artist. Menat graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in English literature and is pursuing her Master’s and credential at USC Rossier School of Education. She is a logophile and linguaphile, working to affect a similar love for words/languages in her students through the practice and art of storytelling. She believes art is in the telling of the story as much as the story itself.
Undergraduate Student Fellow
Gracia Mwamba is a visual artist, composer and writer from DRCongo, by way of South Africa. Currently in her final year of a BA in Art Practice, Gracia works interdisciplinarily to communicate through her work. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue credentials to become a licensed Art Therapist and strong advocate for art as an accessible means of healing and social change.
Graduate Student Fellow
Jared Robinson is from Indianapolis, IN. He is a poet and scholar in the UC Berkeley English department. In his scholarship, he interrogates the relationship between the transatlantic slave trade and Enlightenment philosophy through careful attention to early African-American literature and its reception. In his poetry, he attempts an understanding of everything else. He does not care for this California weather. He is glad to greet you.
Graduate Student Fellow
Jenif(f)er Tamayo is a queer, migrant, formerly undocumented poet, essayist, and performer. Her poetry collections include [Red Missed Aches] (Switchback, 2011), YOU DA ONE (Noemi 2017) and her latest publication, TO KILL THE FUTURE IN THE PRESENT (Green Lantern Press, 2018). Currently, JT lives and works on Ohlone and Patwin lands and is pursuing her PhD in Performance Studies at the University of California Berkeley. Her research explores how contemporary Black and Indigenous poets use vocal practices to counternarrate histories of colonial violence.
Nathalie Khankan is the author of quiet orient riot (Fall 2020), winner of Omnidawn’s 2019 1st/2nd Book Prize, selected by Dawn Lundy Martin. Her work appears in the Berkeley Poetry Review, jubilat, The Volta, and Crab Creek Review. Straddling Danish, Finnish, Syrian and Palestinian homes and heirlooms, Nathalie currently lives in San Francisco. She teaches Arabic language and literature in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley.
Rusty Morrison is the co-founder and co-publisher of Omnidawn (www.omnidawn.com) since 2001. Her five books include After Urgency (won Tupelo’s Dorset Prize) & the true keeps calm biding its story (won Ahsahta’s Sawtooth Prize, James Laughlin Award, N.California Book Award, & DiCastagnola Award from PSA). Her recent book: Beyond the Chainlink (Ahsahta; finalist for the NCIB Award & NCB Award) She teaches in MFA programs as a visiting poet, workshops through Omnidawn and elsewhere. Offering private consultations. www.rustymorrison.com
Photo credit: Josie Gallup
Beth Piatote is author of two books: a mixed-genre collection, The Beadworkers: Stories (Counterpoint 2019); and a scholarly monograph, Domestic Subjects: Gender, Citizenship, and Law in Native American Literature (Yale 2013), as well as numerous essays and short stories stories in journals and anthologies. Her recent work, The Beadworkers, has been long-listed for the Aspen Words Literary Prize and the PEN/Bingham Prize. She is currently associate professor of Native American Studies, where she specializes in Native American literature and law; Nez Perce language and literature; Indigenous Language Revitalization; and creative writing. She earned a PhD from Stanford University.
Alex Saum-Pascual is a digital artist, poet and professor. She is Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches Contemporary Spanish Literature and Culture (20th and 21st Centuries) and Electronic Literature (Digital Humanities). She is also part of the Executive Committee of the Berkeley Center for New Media and the board of directors of the Electronic Literature Organization. Her academic work on digital media and literature in the Spanish-speaking world has been published in Spain, Mexico and the United States. Her digital artwork and poetry has been exhibited in galleries and art festivals in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Norway and the UK.
This event was co-sponsored by the Engaging the Senses Foundation.