Kathy Engel is a poet, essayist, convener, educator, organizational strategic consultant, co-founder of numerous organizations and projects including MADRE, the international women's human rights group, in 1983, which she directed for 5 years. She has worked in nearly every major social justice, peace and human rights movement in the U.S. over the last 38 years. The many projects she was instrumental in creating include “talking nicaragua,” a dramatization about U.S. policy in Nicaragua, “Stand with Sisters for Economic Dignity,” dubbed by Washington D.C. press, “the Vagina Monologues of economic justice;” “Who I Will Be,” a performance piece with formerly incarcerated women, “Imagining Peace,” following the attacks on the World Trade Center, and “Re-Plant Haiti,” a performance at Carnegie Hall and a multi-faceted campaign that led to a last minute stay of execution for Death Row Inmate Shaka Sankofa, working with Amnesty International, the NAACP Death Penalty Project and others.
She is co-founder and former president of Riptide Communications, a public relations consulting firm set up to service social change organizations; co-founder of the Hayground School, East End Women in Black, and Poets for Ayiti.
She currently serves as Chair and Associate Arts Professor in NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Department of Art and Public Policy and Master’s Program in Arts Politics.
Engel has given numerous workshops, talks and readings, and her poems, essays, and reviews have been published and anthologized widely. Her books include Ruth’s Skirts, IKON, 2007, The Kitchen with artist German Perez, Yaboa Press, 2007, and We Begin Here: Poems for Palestine and Lebanon, co-edited with Kamal Boullata, Interlink Books, 2007, which has been a tool for community conversation. She was a featured poet at the 2012 Split This Rock Poetry Festival and the 2017 Hobart Women Writers Festival, and a featured writer/scholar in Freedom Forums in the fall of 2017 and 2018.
Engel is co-founder, with Alexis De Veaux, of Lyrical Democracies and The Center for Poetic Healing. Her work has most recently appeared in Poetry Magazine, Poet Lore, Women’s Voices for Change, Visual Inquiry and About Place Journal. Recent publications include the anthology Ghost Fishing. Her lyrical essay “Where I Live” was circulated extensively internationally following publication in The East Hampton Star and the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership Newsletter. A video presenting a chorus of voices reading her poem “To Kneel” is live on The Root and was published on Portside among other places in 2018. Engel’s book of poetry The Lost Brother Alphabet will be published by Get Fresh Books in early 2020.
In 2014 Engel performed in a production of her elegiac suite of poems "The Lost Brother Alphabet", with choreographer/dancer Suchi Branfman, at the Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, CA.
Engel initiated and co-organized Walk for Interdependence, which took place in Sag Harbor, New York on July 4, 2018. In fall 2018, she coordinated Ghost Fishing, an NYU public art installation, with a team of collaborators at the Kimmel Windows. Engel has been a fellow at the Macdowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, the Gaia Sea Change Residency and the Hedgebrook Women Writers Residency.