The Return of Activism – with Kathy Engel

The Return of Activism - with Kathy Engel

In this episode, Kathy Engel talks about power of women’s stories, what it means to be a woman activist and why we can’t wait for permission to do anything important.

Kathy is a poet, essayist and cofounder of numerous social justice organizations and projects including international women’s human rights group, MADRE. She also serves as Chair and Associate Arts Professor at NYU Tisch School of Art and Public Policy.

Episode Highlights

• 1:15 – How witnessing war and US foreign policy transforms Kathy from poet to activist
• 8:23 – How Kathy pivoted from poet to co-founder of the global social justice organization MADRE
• 10:15 – The power of women’s stories and what it is to be a woman activist
• 12:29 – The gift of activism: we learn to “trust ourselves, fight white supremacy, racism and misogyny with love”
• 17:55 – Kathy challenges us: “Don’t wait for permission to do anything important”
• 22:30 – How she embraced a new skill of writing (even though she was terrible at it to start)
• 24:18 – On why art must be political and how “criticizing Beyonce is just a way to discredit and diffuse her power”
• 45:11 – Kathy shares her poem Inaugural and why today more than ever, “now is the time to be generous, now is the time to be brave and patient…”

1. Favorite book for women?

2. Favorite self-care hack?

  • Saying “I love you” to the people that she loves, looking at the ocean whenever she can and writing poetry and gratitude lists

3. Best piece of advice and who gave it to you?

  • “Imagine if you let your power loose a little more freely, think how full life would be” – her mother

4. Female CEO or thought leader you’re into right now?

  • Dr. Vandana Shiva – Biodiversity activist. “For me, ecology and feminism have been inseparable. And Diverse Women for Diversity is one expression of combining women’s rights and nature’s rights, celebrating our cultural diversity and biological diversity.”

5. One piece of advice you’d give your 5 years younger self?

  • Trust yourself

Resources and People Mentioned

• Kathy’s website
Ruth’s Skirt’s by Kathy Engel
On the Cusp – film that Kathy co-produced with Philippe Cheng
Herman J. Engel – Her father and documentary filmmaker
Dr. Benjamin Spock – An American pediatrician who authored bestselling book Baby and Child Care
Grace Paley – American short story writer, poet and political activist
Denise Levertov – English poet
June Jordan – Political journalist and poet
Michael Ratner – American attorney and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Martin Luther King – American Baptist minister and leader of the Civil Right Movement
Anne Sexton – Pulitzer prize winning American poet famous for her poems Live or Die
Pete Seeger – American folk singer and songwriter
Woody Guthrie – American folk singer and songwriter
Barack Obama – 44th President of the United States

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