“The Pulse of Black History”

From Gwen McKinney’s newsletter on Black History month:

“Let’s view February merely as a marker, not a restraint. We should claim the moments whenever it is appropriate to exhume, remember and embrace. The obscure. The cherished. The harsh. The curated truths. They etch the Black experience. They are milestones in the storytelling of humanity, capturing what is constant and changing.”

Read in full here…

Hobart Festival of Women Writers: Spotlight on Kathy Engel

Kathy Engel is making her Hobart Book Village Festival of Women Writers debut in 2017. In addition to giving a reading of her published work, she will moderate the festival’s Public Conversation on Art and Politics with poets, Marianela Medrano and Elana Bell, and essayist, Nancy Bereano.

In this Spotlight, Kathy speaks with Stephanie Nikolopoulos on language, the intersections between her life as a poet and as an activist, and her hopes for this panel: “As long as there’s genuine exchange and openness, anything is possible. I’m not interested in the predictable or obvious or proving a point. I’m interested in seeds. New language. A shift. If I learn something, which I’m bound to, then I can only hope others will as well.”


“Ode To What We Make”

Praise the words and what
defies words, the mamas and
fathers, all the beloveds
who hold and steer us,
walk, crawl or leap with us,
ghost us, as we again, still –
whoever, however, wherever –
lumber, stomp, whisper, yell,
reaching up out of mud, in our
ancient infancy, into verse
from blackened earth
to silver sky, green and
brown stalks climbing towards
a tenderness we can hold
ragged as rope, an oath of at least
one truth, praise each tendril,
the landay and its daring, a
thousand palms heating open,
the body scraping through muck
and mist to find its form, each
train track, wheel, grind, snag
of life beneath any line, praise
the whiff of song and the spitting
out, the recall and the 2 am
rant, the naked planet of
iteration, the lyric’s rugged
boot sole, the crimp, cut, throw-
away, praise the lantern and
damning fluorescence, the
wane and constant flicker,
the parenthesis, the lost ellipse
and praise the longed for moon
casting the night, the heaving rain,
its wet coat, praise each alphabet’s
lonely letter clamoring for light,
resisting the end of memory, the
end of touch, each cell and clot
still alive in any language,
still gorgeous, to be invented,
praise the clumsiness of this
word sharpening its animal teeth
for the love of the cub.

Kathy Engel, January, 2017

Published in Split This Rock

“My Election Journal: Will I Have the Courage?”

“…On the Long Island Expressway east towards home, green ocean waves I’ll never again take for granted, and my beautiful, funny girls; coming home from the battleground state of Pennsylvania via beloved war torn Manhattan, I open the windows wide, let in all carbon monoxide, the “Essential Leonard Cohen” blaring monotone romantic words about poverty, raciasm, war and the woman he loves…”


Kathy Engel, November 3, 2004

(on the announcement of Bush’s second term)

From  “My Election Journal: Will I Have the Courage?”

Published in Ruth’s Skirts


“Dreaming Neruda”

bare feet    bent toes that speak

in verse and kiss the dirt with nails like teeth


curved shell on the isla of remembering and forgetting

isla isla isla    oh onyx star    oh creak    croak    stutter


song or howl mounting from the artery

of all beginnings    grief of tainted future    oh stone    claw


in sand    bamboo bowl    oh hoof-print on clay    crochet

of tall grass whisking and masquerading a multitude


of cricket breaths    oh mouse dropping on the counter and broken window

oh gates of no return    neighbor collecting white    yellow   and a blue egg


in a basket for a friend    chicken pumping out perfection    oh

town meeting with beaks    wings    buzzers and screechers


oh memory of wholeness    never-ending assumption    forgetful lip

oh wicked denial    oh names of brown and black bodies the state murders


cloaked in blood drained white    oh Alton Sterling   Philando Castile    oh families

donde se diga tu nombre se dira Victoria    Nicaragua ‘83


oh the hundreds oh the thousands oh corpses in the heart

and under the ground oh rupture    oh nameless shame


oh tongue and larynx and throat wall stopped for lack

of meaning and suddenly a thousand bullfrogs in a pond


I never saw until the millisecond of now    as I sit still within

the endless reach of your teaching    spit of contradiction    oh broken


translation    these inadequate ears    oh work    oh dream of a we

oh smallness    oh poet/diplomat/celebrator of each molecule of daily life

tell me from the other world        what do we make now


Kathy Engel, July, 2016

(inspired by Ernst Jandl’s “the usual rilke”)

Published in Women’s Voice for Change

“Where I Live”

“We returned to the tangle of place called home in 1994 — me, my husband, and our young daughters. I was afraid of it, terrified of myself in it, loved it the way you love food you think you’re not supposed to eat and fear will make you sick.

This is where when I was a child Claribel the angry Angus cow taught me caution.”

Click here to read the full piece on The East Hampton Star.

“Permanent Transience”

ke reading at marders

Praise formation

and what came


Praise these cupped

palms, this winged

or mammal breath,

praise sudden ember 

edged  emblem

charcoal calligraph

praise boulder

of whale   

boulder of buffalo 

potato boulder

boulder of displacement

and boulder of what remains

Praise sweet straw, smell

of the past, stalls, foals, steaming

manure and a  hot lamp hanging low

Praise the rock I used  to climb

to sit and stare above the tear,

praise bare feet holding, praise leaping

Praise our neighbors of the nursery

growing tree and shrub, praise the

flowering, inviting us again and again

praise our neighbor the artist

who laid rye and switchgrass 

into stone like lovers from

different worlds:

Praise rock to straw, insect

hole and dirt mound , praise

the burn and air


work and dream

Kathy Engel | August 26, 2016 | For Toni and the Marder family