Dear Inheritors, 2024

 Get Fresh Books Publishing, 2024. Cover art by Darlene Charneco, Learning Library Landings

You can pre-order a copy of “Dear Inheritors” here.

Dear Inheritors is written for you—regardless of your politics, race, or class. At once tender and brutally honest, Kathy Engel’s poetic letter to her readers reveals the everyday “hurricane” that lives “under the belly of the good life”—unnamed inequities, the “tattoo of two worlds divided by train tracks,” witness masquerading as activism. But the same poems that indict, also console, encourage us. Yes, we “live inside contradictions,” still we are learning “who can we keep alive” and what a “do-over” might look like. Part metaphor, part instructions for repair, Engel’s collection taunts us, lyrics us—ultimately, heals us. 

Kimberly Blaeser, author of Ancient Light, past Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Kathy Engel stands open, vulnerable, in a vast world “Where the mirror is confused[.]” and does not flinch. She refuses her own world’s “thousand masks” of denial, even when anguish or privilege tempt or obfuscate.  Her lyricism and her direct speech live among tables, blessing bowls, and gardens; horses, wild birds, and public art; “spit, paste, memory, hammer;” and always the sea, her beloved Atlantic where the waters live and where she physically tunes her attention to far songs. Engel wears a mantle of poet-citizen lightly but authentically, bearing a decades-rich devotion to and work inside literary and social justice communities.  Who dares to sing of “we” or “us” while inhabiting a place “where land stays stolen/swollen?” This book declares “we are more than the names/of places, more than lists—” and it lives there/here at soul-level.  Engel’s clarity and conscience also embrace a tender mortality— “even when the severing is slow[.]” Dear Inheritors addresses populi.      

Judith Vollmer, author of six books of poetry, including most recently “The Sound Boat: New & Selected Poems” (University of Wisconsin, 2022).

Audre Lorde once asked “where is true history written, except in the poems?” In Dear Inheritors we experience the interconnected love-scale of a being committed to beauty in the form of freedom for all oppressed people, accountability in the form of interspecies presence, and grace in the form of ongoing witness, whether witnessing a mimosa tree in the yard, a loved one, the ebbs and flows of a movement or the porous self, transformed by all of it.  This book will help you remember how to be here, lovingly, curiously inside whichever indescribable moment you face.”

Alexis Pauline Gumbs, PhD,  author of six books including most recently “Undrowned (AK Press, 2020). 

Eyechart, 2020

A text and image collaboration between Ellen Driscoll and Kathy Engel. You can find a copy here.

The Lost Brother Alphabet, 2020

Kathy Engel’s poetry collection, The Lost Brother Alphabet (Get Fresh Books, 2020) is both ode and elegy, a song of grief and the tenacity of love made into the living and feeling word.

I found it hard not to straight-out weep reading The Lost Brother Alphabet, both for the sorrow flowing through it and for the beauty and buoyancy of its language, and the gladness of how fully alive it is – in every dancing phrase, in every bit of tribute to tenderness and justice. 

Alicia Ostriker, New York State Poet Laureate, author of Waiting for the Light 

Through humility, Kathy articulates the world in words that are palatable to the senses: the alphabet dances through the pages in steps of alliteration, the powerful settings are invigorated through personified imagery, and the historical influences obfuscate the division between past and present.

Mercy Tullis-Bukhari, author of Smoke and Mango

A multi-layered poetry collection as elegiac and intimate as it is politically urgent, as temporal and rooted as it is ontological…

Alison Meyers, Mom Egg Review

The Lost Brother Alphabet can be ordered here.

You can listen here to Kathy reading from The Lost Brother Alphabet at the online launch that took place on April 4 hosted by Canio’s Books, Sag Harbor.