Engaging the Senses Foundation would like to congratulate our ongoing partner the University of California at Berkeley for the much-deserved honor it has recently been accorded, as No. 1 in Forbes’ national ranking of America’s Best Colleges. This is the first time the top spot has ever been awarded to a public university. Amongst other accolades, UC Berkeley is noted in its top designation for the fact that 27% of undergraduates receive federal Pell Grants aimed at helping low- and moderate-income students pay for college, resulting in a varied and uniquely inclusive student body.
Meanwhile, we’re delighted to announce that the fall 2021 semester of Engaging the Senses Foundation’s multi-year Poetry and the Senses partnership with U.C. Berkeley’s Arts and Research Center (ARC) is now under way! Under the skillful direction of Acting Director of Arts Research Center Chiyuma Elliott, an Associate Professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley who is a member of the ARC Poetry and the Senses Advisory Board; and Associate Director of ARC Laurie Macfee, a poet, artist, art administrator, and educator who facilitates the Poetry and the Senses initiative, the initiative is moving into a new theme and focus.” For Fall 2021 the Poetry and the Senses fellows will pivot from the initiative’s earlier theme of emerg/ency to its new theme of coexistence, with implications of both sharing space/cohabitation within overlapping territories, and simultaneous presence with others in time.
We look forward to the next few months of online readings and conversations with the fall 2021 Interns, as well as guest poets and artists. We’re once again anticipating a rich and varied Flash Reading Series, which will take place from late September – November 2021, with bi-weekly releases of featured poets including Katherine Agard, Caroline Goodwin, Amanda Gunn, Dana Koster, and many others. During these sessions, each poet will give a 3-5 minute reading of one of their poems related in some way to the theme of coexistence, highlighting work that “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.” These short readings will be carried on both the Poetry and the Senses website and a YouTube channel. We’ll share specific dates as soon as they’re confirmed.
You’ll also want to mark your calendars for October 20th, at 5pm pacific, when Poetry and the Senses will welcome poet and Cave Canem co-founder Cornelius Eady (author of Hardheaded Weather) to the ARC virtual stage, along with two emerging poets who’ve benefitted from his teaching and mentorship in the Cave Canem Black artists collective: Morgan Parker (author of Magical Negro) and Cameron Awkward Rich (author of Dispatch). Cave Canem’s programs and publications enlarge the American literary canon; democratize archives; and expand for students, aspiring poets and readers the notion of what’s possible and valuable in a poem. In Cave Canem, poets of color find productive space for writing without fear of censure or the need to defend subject matter or language. Following their readings, these poets will be in conversation with ARC’s Acting Director Chiyuma Elliott and fall 2021 Poetry & the Senses fellow Vincente Perez, a Black Mexican-American performance poet, scholar, and writer working at the intersections of Poetry, Hip-Hop, and Digital Black cultural praxis with an interest in the way that artists use narrative to resist dominant stories that attempt to erase, subjugate, or enact violence on marginalized communities.