Feb 15, 2009

Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri to an American mother and a Palestinian father. At the age of seven, she published her first poem, and at age 14, her family moved to Jerusalem, where she attended a year of high school. Her family then moved to San Antonio, Texas, where she lives today with her husband and son. In her writing, she draws on the voices of the Mexican-Americans that live near her, as well as the perspectives of Arab-Americans like herself and the ideas and practices of the different local subcultures of America.

Nye has gained a reputation for poetry that shows ordinary events, people and objects from a new perspective. She says, "For me the primary source of poetry has always been local life, random characters met on the streets, our own ancestry sifting down to us through small essential daily tasks" (Contemporary Authors).

After getting her B.A. from Trinity University in 1974, Naomi Shihab Nye began her career as a freelance writer, editor, and speaker. She has earned numerous awards for her writing, including four Pushcart Prizes, the Jane Addams Children's Book award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and many notable book and best book citations from the American Library Association.

In her first collection of poetry, Different Ways to Pray, Nye explores the shared experiences and differences between cultures. She continues this focus in her second collection, Hugging the Jukebox, writing about the ordinary and the perspectives of people in other lands. Nye creates poetry from everyday scenes, celebrating the similarities between us all, as well as our diversity.

Nye's third collection of poetry, Yellow Glove, reflects a new, more mature perspective, influenced by the continuing unrest in the Middle East and the amounts of tragedy and sorrow found there. Still, she maintains an undertone of hope, realizing that facing sorrow and adversity only makes us stronger.

Besides her collections of poetry, Nye has also written children's books, music and poetry recordings, and translations of poetry. In addition, she has written a book of essays, called Never in a Hurry, and edited several poetry anthologies, including This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from around the World, which contains some of the translated work of 129 poets from 68 different countries. In 1997, Nye published her first young adult novel, entitled Habibi, which is the autobiographical story of an Arab-American teenager who moves to Jerusalem during the 1970s.


I post my favourite from her collection...

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
you could tumble any second.
decide what to do with your time.

And I just about loved Two Countries


Works of the Author:
  • The Flag of Childhood: Poems from the Middle East (2002)
  • 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (2002)
  • Mint Snowball (2001)
  • Come with Me (2000)
  • How To Undress a Cop (with Sarah Cortez) (2000)
  • What Have You Lost? (1999)
  • Fuel (1998)
  • The Space between Our Footsteps: Poems and Paintings from the Middle East (1998)
  • Lullaby Raft (1997)
  • Habibi (1996)
  • Never in a Hurry (1996)
  • Benito's Dream Bottle (1995)
  • Words under the Words: Selected Poems (1995)
  • Red Suitcase (1994)
  • Sitti's Secrets (1994)
  • Mint (1991)
  • Invisible (1987)
  • Yellow Glove (1986)
  • Hugging the Jukebox (1982)
  • Different Ways to Pray (1980)

Naomi Shihab Nye in her own words


Wise Words of the Day: Feb 15 2009.

"Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one. The road goes upward towards the light; but the laden traveler may never reach the end of it."
-- Ursula K Le Guin, from "A Tomb of Atuan"


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