Kathy Engel, poet and social activist, to speak at Judson College on March 5 | Judson College
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Kathy Engel, poet and social activist, to speak at Judson College on March 5

The Judson College Concert and Lecture Series will present Kathy Engel, world-renowned poet and social activist, who will give a poetry reading and discuss her social justice projects. She will be on campus to speak and visit with students, faculty and staff on Thursday, March 5. Thursday’s performance will be at 1:00 p.m. and will be presented in Alumnae Auditorium.

Kathy EngelAs a poet, Engel has given workshops and readings nationally. Her poems and essays have been widely published and anthologized. Her most recent books are Ruth’s Skirts (IKON) and We Begin Here: Poems for Palestine and Lebanon (Interlink books), co edited with Kamal Boullata. Engel was a featured poet at the Split This Rock Poetry Festival in 2012, and recently performed her elegiac suite of poems “The Lost Brother Alphabet” with choreographer/dancer Suchi Branfman at the Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, California. Writer, scholar and activist Ethelbert Miller wrote of Engel’s poem “Amends to Parts of My Body”, published online in Women’s Voice For Change, “Has Kathy Engel written one of the great American poems?”

Engel has founded, co- founded, and directed numerous social justice and human rights organizations, working in the nexus between art and social change internationally and domestically. She started and was first director of MADRE, the 31 year old women’s human rights group, cofounded the Hayground School, East End Women in Black, Poets for Ayiti, and most recently, Lyrical Democracies and its Center for Poetic Healing, with writer, scholar and activist Alexis De Veaux.  She has served as a communications/strategic/creative consultant and producer. Her practice has proposed injection of the imagination and art in efforts related to prison reform, domestic violence, economic, gender, and racial justice, peace, education, health, and U.S. policies in Haiti, Central America, the Middle East, and South Africa, suggesting a re-imagining necessary for meaningful change.

In 1983, her production of talking nicaragua, a dramatization involving testimony of Nicaraguans affected by the U.S. contra war, featured actors Susan Sarandon, Edward Hermann, Rosalba Rolon, Alvan Colon (PREGONES Theater), and Giancarlo Esposito. Before starting MADRE, she worked at the Academy of American Poets, New York Mobilization for Survival and was the executive director of the Fund For Open Information and Accountability.

Engel currently serves as Chair and Associate Arts Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Art and Public Policy Program. Regarding her upcoming visit to Alabama, Engel said “I am honored and moved to be invited to share my work, support the extraordinary work of my longtime colleague and friend, the brilliant artist, Billie Jean Young, and to join in this historic moment of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the Selma march.”

Regarding Engel’s work, MacArthur Fellow and current Judson College Artist-in-Residence Dr. Billie Jean Young commented, “Kathy Engel’s work in struggles from New York to Central America to California, the southern United States and beyond make her an important ally in interpreting the struggle for equality in the Deep South. Her work as an artist connecting with political prisoners, women and oppressed people everywhere informs her poetry and gives voice to the voiceless. Hers is an important voice needing to be heard, north and south, east and west. It is significant that 50 years later, we are still drawn to each other’s suffering. We may be different colors, but we are all the same. All the blood is red, including our martyred dead.”

Thursday’s performance will be at 1:00 p.m.  Students, 1:00pm classes have been cancelled, and 2:30pm classes will be held as usual.

The performance is for general audiences and will be presented in Alumnae Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. For more information regarding the performance, contact Jamie Adams at 334-683-5251.