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poetry Now listen

New York poet Kathy Engel responds to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s rescinding an award to Angela Davis.

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By Kathy Engel                                           

(On the occasion of the rescinding of the Fred Shuttleworth

Award to Angela Davis by The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute)

I am a white

Jewish American


I’ve seen uprooted


of Palestinian

verse knotted

in a fenced village

guns planted

like trees

I’ve heard

Black American


locked up

for being



their children’s

names as anthem

Dear Birmingham

you can’t rescind

a daughter:



of the gods

you can’t un


a torch

Author’s notes:                                           

The name Angela means messenger of the Gods.

Appreciation to Cornelius Eady for his repeating line:                                          

“I am a black American poet” from his poem “Gratitude”

Kathy Engel has worked for nearly 40 years at the nexus between social justice movements and art/imagination. Books include “Ruth’s Skirts,” poems and prose, IKON, 2007, “We Begin Here: Poems for Palestine and Lebanon,” co- edited with Kamal Boullata (Interlink Books, 2007),  “The Kitchen” with art by German Perez (Yaboa Press, 2002) and  the chapbook, “Banish The Tentative” (1989). Her book of poems, The Lost Brother Alphabet, will be published by Get Fresh Books in 2020.