UC Davis Stories Inspire of Poetic Address to the Nation

By Imagining America | March 10, 2017

In January, Imagining America (IA) and UC Davis brought together students, community members, and faculty in stories circles as part of the People’s State of the Union, an annual initiative of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC).


The People’s State of the Union, started in 2015, is an invitation to supplement the president’s address by coming together in communities to share personal reflections on the state of the union in story circles. Inspired by these stories, a group of renowned poets compose responses, performed and broadcast live in The Poetic Address to the Nation.

Larry Bogad, Professor of Theatre & Dance in Performance Studies at UC Davis, reflected on the event at UC Davis:

“Yesterday I was in Davis for a story circle organized by IA and USDAC, of which I’m a Cabinet member. We were all there to share stories and perspectives, respectfully, about our sense of the state of the union. This was for our nationwide People’s State of the Union campaign that we’ve done every year for a couple of years.

“There we were–a group of many classes, racial and gender identities, many professions and perspectives. Some had connections to the university (students, grad students, staff, professors), and others were local community members. Taking equal time to actually listen to each other and reflect. No crosstalk, no interruptions, no elite people hogging the microphone. An African-American scholar and professor telling us of his own son staying inside for well-justified fear of racist brutality; A Chicanx professor telling of how she still gets harassed on campus and presumed guilty of crime because of her skin color. Youth and community members reflecting on inspiring stories of successful resistance on a daily basis, those small victories that add up to a progressive social movement.


“It was humble, it was real, it was honest, it was unsentimental and unpretentious, straightforward and so complex. It was a true encuentro and there will be many more as we build this partnership of ours. The Union is in grave danger. But the People are beautiful. Venceremos, venceremos, venceremos, ohmmmm….”

Tune in this Saturday, March 11, to the 2017 Poetic Address to the Nation, hosted by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and emceed by Chinaka Hodge. Together with musicians, poets, and others, the performance will address the Trump administration and the nation through the words of the people. USDAC is a people-powered department—a grassroots action network inciting creativity and social imagination to shape a culture of empathy, equity, and belonging.

UC Davis will host the 17th Annual National IA Conference in Davis, California, October 12-14, 2017. IA seeks thoughtful, critical, and artistic session proposals that engage with Communities, Arts, Lands, and Learning (C.A.L.L.). Read the call for proposals. The deadline for submissions is March 20. IA will move its national headquarters from Syracuse University to UC Davis in the summer of 2017.