Photo Credit: Matthew Septimus

Esther Cohen

b. 1947

Current City, State, Country

New York, New York, USA

Birth City, State, Country

Ansonia, Connecticut, USA


Esther Cohen’s first poem was published in the Beth Israel Synagogue bulletin in Derby, Connecticut. She was in 7th grade. The poem was about her neighbor, Ida Gordon. She has published poems regularly since then in a wide range of publications, from Jews, to the Hobart Festival of Women Writers Anthology, NOW, to The New York Times. She’s a member of BREVITAS, an invitational group of 50 poets who email poems to one another twice a month. She has long worked in the labor movement, and served as Executive Director of Bread and Roses, the national cultural program for workers run by 1199/SEIU. She currently runs The Clara Lemlich Awards with Rachel Bernstein (and Labor Arts) for women activists in their 80’s, 90’s and 100’s. Formerly the Arts Editor for Jewish Currents Magazine, she is now a co-founder of ALTE, Jewish Currents literary publication for its older subscribers. She teaches poetry and creative writing five days a week on Zoom. Her students include incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, senior members of Greenwich House, residents of Penn South, members of the New York Society Library, and members of the website REVEL. She serves as an advisory board member for Remember the Triangle Fire committee, Israel-Palestine Journal, Labor Arts, The Puffin Foundation, The Museum of the City of New York Activist Gallery, the National Writers Union, and Citylore.

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

Jews are frequent subjects and predicates of many of my poems. Like all writers, I write about my childhood, and about what I know: people, and small towns and big towns and daily life. In all of these, there are always Jews.

Published Works

Breakfast with Allen Ginsberg  (Pleasure Boat Studios, 2021)
God is a Tree (Pleasure Boat Studios, 2021)

Book Doctor (Counterpoint Press, 2006)
No Charge for Looking (Schocken Books, 1984)
Don’t Mind Me and Other Jewish Lies (with Roz Chast) (Hyperion, 2008)

Edited Works
Unseenamerica: Photos and Stories of Workers (Regan/Harper Collins Books, 2005)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Current Title

Writer Teacher Cultural Activist


The George Washington University, English Literature, 1969

Subject Matter