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Canceled: The Universe in Verse 2020
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Following guidance from health experts designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), UC Santa Cruz is cancelling The Universe in Verse scheduled for April 18.

UC Santa Cruz invites you to join us for The Universe in Verse 2020 – a charitable celebration of science through poetry created and hosted by acclaimed author and curator of beauty, Maria Popova, of Brain Pickings fame. Throughout the evening, artists and scientists will celebrate the marvel and mystery of life at UCSC’s majestic outdoor amphitheater in the redwoods with poems, music, and storytelling. Not just another poetry jam, The Universe in Verse is the largest event of its kind in the world, bringing the wonder that inspires both science and art to sold-out audiences year after year.

For its fourth incarnation, Maria has joined forces with astrophysicist and two-time Universe in Verse alumna Natalie Batalha. Professor Batalha led the search for potentially habitable planets orbiting other stars with NASA’s Kepler mission and its triumphant discovery of 4,000 new worlds, dozens of which are possible cradles for life beyond Earth. She has since founded the Astrobiology Institute at UC Santa Cruz, to explore what it means for humans to be good planetary stewards as our understanding of life evolves and our search for it beyond our home planet continues.

Poems spanning centuries of human thought and feeling will be shared by a cast of extraordinary humans: playwright and activist Eve Ensler, Nobel-winning physicist Kip Thorne, author Rebecca Solnit, artists Debbie Millman and Dustin Yellin, poets Donika Kelly and Marie Howe, radio icons Krista Tippett and Jad Abumrad, musicians Zoë Keating and Morley, and Cosmos co-creator and re-creator Ann Druyan, the love of Carl Sagan’s life. We will be honoring SETI co-founders and search-for-life pioneers Jill Tarter and Frank Drake, who are both joining us with poems. As usual, there will be music, storytelling, and some thrilling surprises.

The Universe in Verse 2020 proceeds will go to La Noche de las Estrellas — a Lick Observatory, Spanish language initiative, promoting STEM education for local Hispanic youth — and the endeavor to build New York City’s first-ever public observatory at Pioneer Works (birthplace of The Universe in Verse) in Brooklyn, NY.

Doors open at 6:00 pm. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to explore interactive exhibits in the Redwood Lobby of the Quarry Amphitheater (6:00-7:15pm). The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. and should finish before 9:30 p.m. After the event and weather permitting, guests are invited to take in celestial sights through telescopes shared by local astronomical association members.

Saturday, April 18, 2020
7:30–9:30 p.m.
Quarry Amphitheater, UC Santa Cruz

This event will take place in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater under the stars and encircled by redwoods. Please dress warmly. As we contemplate life, we celebrate all that is life-giving, including rain. This event will take place rain or shine. No refunds.

After the event:

Walk back to the East Remote Lot and stop to observe the night sky through telescopes on the East Field courtesy of Santa Cruz Amateur Astronomy Club and UC Santa Cruz Astronomy & Astrophysics Graduate Students.

Partners and Sponsors:

UC Santa Cruz is honored to partner with Pioneer Works, birthplace of The Universe in Verse, to bring this celebration of science to the West Coast.

We are grateful for the generous support from the UC Santa Cruz Foundation, Breakthrough Initiatives, and The Humanities Institute.

We appreciate the participation of our local community, including Bookshop Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Amateur Astronomy Club.


Quarry Amphitheater, UC Santa Cruz map