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UC Berkeley's Poetry for the People Seeks Adult and Teen Climate Activists/Artists [Paid]

As a member of the Daily Dose crew, I have been figuring out ways to put the climate emergency at the top of my agenda in all areas of my life: parenting, writing, and work. To that end, I have figured out how to engage climate in my teaching at UC Berkeley. Instead of just seeing myself as a creative writing teacher, I am understanding my role as commissioning artists to write compelling new work about the climate emergency. To that end, I am sending out the following call for applications to our resident artist program for fall 2020. We apologize for the late notice–the pandemic has slowed us down considerably, But we are committed to making these financial resources available to artist activists in these tough economic times!

In responding to the climate emergency, UC Berkeley’s Poetry for the People UC Berkeley’s Poetry for the People in the Department of African American Studies has begun to commission artists of color to write about the climate crisis.

Thanks to a generous series of grants from UC Berkeley’s Creative Discovery Program, we have been able to support UC Berkeley students and community artists to create new work about the climate crisis.

For fall 2020, we are expanding our reach and commissioning a cohort of youth and adult climate activists who also write and perform spoken word and hip hop about the climate emergency.

Please see below for how to apply:

APPLICATIONS DUE Monday, August 31ST BY 5pm PST. Early applications will get priority consideration, and there will be an opportunity to ask if we have any questions.

Artists of color, artists from the Global South, LGBTQ artists and artist with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Applicants will be notified on September 1, 2020.

The residency begins on September 2, 2020. (See full schedule of dates and times below.)


All applicants must be engaged in climate activism beyond simply writing about it.

Current UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff are not eligible.

Applicants can live anywhere in the world.

Youth participants must be 14-18 years old on 9/1/20

Adult participants must be 18+ on 9/1/20

All participants must be writing primarily in English (just so that our students can understand).

All resident artists must be available for zoom calls on the following dates/times:

Weds., September 2, 2020 2-5 PM PST US

Weds., October 27, 2020 2-5 PM PST US

Thurs., December 17, 2020 3–6 PM PST US

We are commissioning work to help spur communities to action. Because the majority of people in the world are of color and racism is so interwoven with the climate emergency, we are looking for work that will speak beyond the traditional US environmental movement demographics, which is white and economically privileged.


We are looking for work that balances the dangers and urgency of the climate crisis with encouragement toward action that can be effective in changing policy and creating solutions. In the US, the Green New Deal is an example of a solution to the crisis at scale. We are looking for work that is accessible to audiences who do not already have a great deal of information about the climate crisis. We are looking for work that makes connections that are personal, political, historical, and global. Finally, we are looking for work that tells a powerful story and creates an emotional connection with the audience about the climate crisis. Please do not send work that could be an essay, a speech, or an academic paper. We are looking for work that is dynamic. In the application, you will find the guidelines that we use to teach poetry. There is a brief one we usually use with high school students and a more in-depth one we use in our college courses. Applicants should feel free to read either or both, regardless of the category in which they are applying. Because guest artists will be modeling excellent writing for our class, we will prioritize applicants who can write effectively about climate while also reinforcing the principles of writing that we are attempting to teach.

We will select up to 5 youth artists, who will receive a stipend of $500 each for their participation.

We will select ONE each of adult poet and hip hop artists, who will receive a stipend of $1,000 each for their participation.

Stipends will be based on artists successfully completing the residency.

Resident artists are expected to develop a full-length new piece on climate during the residency. The first visit will be guest artists and students getting to know each other, with guest artists sharing application pieces. The second visit will be guest artists sharing new works in progress with feedback from the class, and the third visit will be sharing your final pieces. There is a time limit of 2.5 minutes minimum and 4 minutes maximum for all pieces.

The following is the link to the google form to apply:

We look forward to hearing from you!

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