“My work now is to support the work of the next generation, to push at courage, to seek new or different language to express the freedoms we need and might imagine.”

Kathy Engel is a poet, educator and political activist. Over the last 38 years she has worked as a producer, consultant, publicist, and convener with artists, change-makers, and scholars in multiple forms and venues – from street actions, to poetry readings, to multi-media performance pieces. Kathy is Associate Arts Professor and Chair of Tisch School of the Arts’ Department of Art & Public Policy at NYU, where she teaches classes such as “Language as Action” and “The Art of Organization.”


“To Kneel”

In this video, Danny Glover, Anna Deavere Smith and a chorus of other artists recite “To Kneel” by Kathy Engel in support of the 2018 NFL protest and the right to dissent and against racist police violence:

The black men who make wages
from the brutal banging of the skull,
pounding of the knees, arms
reaching like branches in the long
arc of a pass, now kneel.

The muscles of their souls,
the soles of their cleats, stretch
of thighs speak. Fans and refs yell,
commentators jabber and behold:
one knee, hand to ground,
they kneel, the weight
of their built-up bodies
pulled earthward as if called
by those from before
to kneel now, refusing to salute
this country’s killing field.

Those with the heart to be the lonely
first; their knees sing. Jobs at stake,
they kneel for the inheritors. For the future
dignity of bodies to choose to stand
or touch down.

And the joining, too—
some, then flocks, arms threaded,
waving flags of jersey-ed bodies,
an anthem, for the uncountable—
to be counted. And to those
who drop to the knee
only in the recesses of a locked
back room or those who switch and bait
in the light, amid the throngs—or those
who hide behind their whiteness—
who will be there to kneel for you
when such a time comes, as it will

What will you say when
your children or your grandchildren,
their friends or lovers ask
what parts of your bodies
touched the ground
in the moment of loyalty,
or the moment of betrayal?
What would I say?



Ruth’s Skirts, IKON

We Begin Here: Poems for Palestine and Lebanon, co edited with Kamal Boullata, Interlink Publishing

The Kitchen: with art by German Perez, Lulu.com

Banish The Tentative, Wingding and Honey Press

Journals and Other Publications (a selection)

“Waking” – Poet Lore (forthcoming)

“Dreaming Neruda” in Women’s Voice For Change 

“South Fork Poetry: ‘How Sweet the Time’ – The East Hampton Star

“Where I Live” – The East Hampton Star, reprinted by the Boggs Center

“Now I Pray” – Poetry Magazine, Poetry Foundation

“Return” – Poet Lore, Volume 110, Number 1/2

“Volunteer” – Poet Lore, Volume 108, Number 1/2

“My Daughter’s Convinced” – Poet Lore, Volume 106, Number 3/4

“Return (Etheree)” – Split This Rock Poem of the Week

“Family and Spirit” – The Wide Shore

“Inaugural”  – Women’s Voices for Change

“I Will Not” – Split This Rock Poem of the Week

“Gratitude” | “After the Storm, Praise” | “How the Light Gets In” – Beloit Poetry Journal/Split This Rock Chapbook, 2012

“Amends to Parts of the Body” – Women’s Voices for Change

“Dad, Pete, and Obama” | “Where” | “Prelude” – Foreign Policy In Focus

“Little Disturbances, Enormous Change: Remembering Grace Paley and the impact she had on literature, activism and many generations of women and children.” – The Nation online


“Return.” Ghost Fishing (forthcoming)

“When I Die.” The Lake Rises: poems to & from our bodies of water. Eds. Brandi Katherine Herrera and Lisa Wujnovich. New York:Stockport Flats, Witness Post Series, 2013.

“I Will Not.” Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99%. Eds. Karla Linna Merrifield and Dwain Wilder. New York: Foothills Publishing, 2012.

“Dad, Pete & Obama.” How Women Grieve. Special Issue – Adanna Women’s Literary Journal, 2012.

“Conversation with Harriet Barlow.” The Bridge Conversations: People Who Live and Work in Multiple Worlds. Arts & Democracy Project, 2011.

“not there” For the Crowns of Your Heads: A poetry chapbook. New York: Poets for Ayiti, 2010.

“Untitled.” Poets for Palestine. Ed. Remi Kanazi. New York: Al Jisser Group, 2008.

“Conversation with Heaven.” A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and a Prayer. Eds. Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle. New York: Villard, 2007.

“Women and Social Change Leadership.” In Encyclopedia of leadership. Eds. G. Goethals, G. Sorenson, and J. Burns. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2004.

“The Hamptons.” Women on War: An International Anthology of Writings from Antiquity to the Present. 2nd ed. Ed. Daniela Gioseffi. New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2003.

Racing and (E)Racing Language: Living with the Color of our Words. Eds. Safiya Henderson-Holmes and Ellen Goldner. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2001.

Film / Video / Radio

“The Lost Brother Alphabet,” performed with Suchi Branfman at Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica, CA

Reading of “Inaugural” – 2012 Split This Rock Poetry Festival

Reading of “We Begin Here: Poems for Palestine and Lebanon” – East End Ink

Readings from Ruth’s Skirts – WPKN Community Radio – East End Ink

“On The Cusp” – Directed by Philippe Cheng and produced by Toni Ross, Kathy Engel, Bastienne Schmidt, and Philippe Cheng

The Voice of the Children: Meet-the-Author Book Reading – TeachingBooks.net

In this audio clip you’ll hear Kathy Engel, friend of poet June Jordan, introduce and read from a collection of poems written by teens in Harlem, NYC in the 1960’s, entitled The Voice of the Children (Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1970).

Moving Towards Home – Eyewitness News Clip