Naomi Shihab Nye
Biography of Naomi Shihab Nye
a poet, songwriter, and novelist. She was born to a Palestinian father and American mother. Although she regards herself as a "wandering poet", she refers to San Antonio as her home.
Her first collection of poems, Different Ways to Pray, explored the theme of similarities and differences between cultures, which would become one of her lifelong areas of focus. Her other books include poetry collections 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, A Maze Me, Red Suitcase, Field Trip and Fuel; a collection of essays entitled Never in a Hurry; a young-adult novel called Habibi (the semi-autobiographical story of an Arab-American teenager who moves to Jerusalem in the 1990s) and picture book Lullaby Raft, which is also the title of one of her two albums of music. (The other is called Rutabaga-Roo; both were limited-edition.) Nye has edited many anthologies of poems, for audiences both young and old. One of the best-known is This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from around the World, which contains translated work by 129 poets from 69 different countries. Her most recent anthology is called Is This Forever, Or What?: Poems & Paintings from Texas.
She has won many awards and fellowships, among them 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, and a 2000 Witter Bynner Fellowship. In June 2009, Nye was named as one of PeaceByPeace.com's first peace heroes.
Nye graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and still resides in that city. She and her photographer husband, Michael Nye, have one son, Madison.
Nye's father, Aziz Shihab, wrote books such as A Taste of Palestine: Menus and Memories.
At the age of six, Nye began writing poems as soon as she learned how to write. She was influenced by her mother who read to her all the time. At first her early works were based on childish things such as cats, squirrels, friends, teachers, etc. It wasn't until she was fourteen that she visited her Palestinian grandmother; this would eventually become part of the messages in her many collections of poetry. Her book "Fuel" is an example. Some of her earlier works were published in Seventeen, Modern Poetry Studies, and Ironwood.
Naomi Shihab Nye's Works:
Different Ways to Pray: Poems. Breitenbush Publications. 1980.
Hugging the Jukebox. Dutton. 1982.
Yellow Glove. Breitenbush Books. 1986.
Red Suitcase: Poems. Consortium Book Sales & Dist. 1994.
Fuel: poems. BOA Editions, Ltd.. 1998.
19 varieties of gazelle: poems of the Middle East. HarperCollins. 2002.
You & yours: poems. BOA Editions, Ltd.. 2005.
Habibi. Simon and Schuster. 1999.
Naomi Shihab Nye, ed (1996). This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World. Aladdin Paperbacks.
Naomi Shihab Nye, Ashley Bryan, ed (2000). Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets. HarperCollins.
Gómez-Vega, Ibis. "The Art of Telling Stories in the Poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye." MELUS 6.4 (Winter 2001): 245-252.
Gómez-Vega, Ibis. "Extreme Realities: Naomi Shihab Nye's Essays and Poems." Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 30 (2010): 109-133.
Mercer, Lorraine, and Linda Strom. "Counter Narratives: Cooking Up Stories of Love and Loss in Naomi Shihab Nye's Poetry and Diana Abu-Jaber's Crescent." MELUS 32.4 (Winter 2007): 33-46.
Orfalea, Gregory. "Doomed by Our Blood to care: The Poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye." Paintbrush 18.35 (Spring 1991): 56-66.
Clack, Cary, (2009). Clowns and Rats Scare Me. Trinity University Press.
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Naomi Shihab Nye Poems
Making A Fist
For the first time, on the road north of Tampico, I felt the life sliding out of me, a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear. I was seven, I lay in the car
"A true Arab knows how to catch a fly in his hands," my father would say. And he'd prove it, cupping the buzzer instantly while the host with the swatter stared.
Skin remembers how long the years grow when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel of singleness, feather lost from the tail of a bird, swirling onto a step,
If you place a fern under a stone the next day it will be nearly invisible
A man leaves the world and the streets he lived on grow a little shorter.
You can't be, says a Palestinian Christian on the first feast day after Ramadan. So, half-and-half and half-and-half. He sells glass. He knows about broken bits,
Sewing, Knitting, Crocheting...
A small striped sleeve in her lap, navy and white, needles carefully whipping in yarn from two sides.
The river is famous to the fish. The loud voice is famous to silence, which knew it would inherit the earth before anybody said so.
So Much Happiness
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness. With sadness there is something to rub against, a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
Different Ways To Pray
There was the method of kneeling, a fine method, if you lived in a country where stones were smooth.
Burning The Old Year
Letters swallow themselves in seconds. Notes friends tied to the doorknob, transparent scarlet paper, sizzle like moth wings,
The Art Of Disappearing
When they say Don't I know you? say no.
Boy And Egg
Every few minutes, he wants to march the trail of flattened rye grass back to the house of muttering hens. He too could make
A man crosses the street in rain, stepping gently, looking two times north and south, because his son is asleep on his shoulder.
You can't be, says a Palestinian Christian
on the first feast day after Ramadan.
So, half-and-half and half-and-half.
He sells glass. He knows about broken bits,
chips. If you love Jesus you can't love
anyone else. Says he.
At his stall of blue pitchers on the Via Dolorosa,
he's sweeping. The rubbed stones