Ella Eun-He Platts

Getting to the Heart of Resistance in “Imagining Beyond Authoritarianism”

Of all things, images of couches flash behind poet, playwright, and New York University Professor Claudia Rankine as she opens the morning program of “Imagining Beyond Authoritarianism: Race and Gender in Our Times” with a reading from a recent poem. The couches are unusual, almost uncanny — some cave inward; others are overly slouchy and doughy, or split in half with a thick seam of concrete. Rankine’s voice ripples over the heads of the audience members sitting in BAMPFA’s Osher Theater as she reads aloud a poem about exhaustion.

The Confessions of James Baldwin

I cannot remember precisely when I first encountered James Baldwin’s writing — sometime in early high school, perhaps — but I remember that it was not a quote, or even one of his novels, that ushered him into my life.

It was actually a brief poem:




  when you send the rain,
  think about it, please,
  a little?

  not get carried away
  by the sound of falling water,
  the marvelous light
    on the falling water.

Angela Hume’s Deep Care and Bay Area Abortion Activism

For feminist historian, critic, poet, and UC Berkeley lecturer Angela Hume (College Writing Programs), researching radical abortion activism in the Bay Area began unusually — with poetry. What started as an interest in what Hume called “lyric interiority”— or the ways in which queer feminist poets such as Pat Parker, Audre Lorde, and Judy Grahn wrote about the “insides of bodies” — eventually became a full-scale investigation into the Oakland Feminist Women’s Health Center and the wider network of abortion self-help movements in the Bay Area.

Digging Through Grief, Language, and Poetry with Ocean Vuong

In early April 2024, Ocean Vuong — poet, novelist, professor of creative writing at New York University, and the 2023–24 Avenali Chair in the Humanities — came to UC Berkeley. Sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities and held at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the two-day event featured Vuong in conversation with UC Berkeley professor of English Cathy Park Hong and Professor of English and Townsend Center director Stephen Best.