Thursday, February 26

In the Spotlight: Naomi Shihab Nye

One of my very favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye, is teaching here as a visiting writer in just a couple weeks and--it would be an understatement to say--I'm excited. I'm scurrying around trying to find poems to share with the workshop (it's been months since I wrote, eek! what do you show to someone you adore?) and can't help but think of her remarkable spirit.

The author of poetry, young adult fiction and children's anthologies, Nye lends her voice to the warm, peaceful and genuinely heartfelt: she is a true humanitarian. In an interview a couple years back, she spoke of poetry's meaning: "I think for many of us 'the fuel that feeds us' is language in the sense that language can carry us to understanding and connect us to things that matter in our lives. For those of us who trust poetry and the power of linkage that poetry gives us, it's a way of sitting quietly with words and letting them lead us somewhere." The poem Nye's referring to is called, "Hidden,"

If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will be
nearly invisible
as if the stone has
swallowed it.

If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
the little sucked-in breath of air
hiding everywhere
beneath your words.

No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.

If you were to take one book of poetry of the library this year, I would highly recommend her collection Words Under the Words. Her poems about love and family make me believe in times like these.

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jules said...

I love Naomi! I had a chance to hear her read at the Dodge Poetry Festival a couple of years ago and she was magical. She completely captured everyone there, and I've had a special fondness for her ever since. I'm sure the workshop is going to be awesome, I'm just a little bit jealous!

Rebecca said...

Jules, that's so great! what poems did she read? new ones, old favorites? I have *always* wanted to go to Dodge--did you hear about their financial troubles? I hope I get the chance!

jules said...

Oh, God it was so long ago (I think 2002, I remember that she spoke about being arab-american post september 11th...) I have to see if i can find the program. I was heartbroken when I heard that they cancelled the 2010 festival. I missed last year's because my wedding was smack in the middle of it (not my first choice!) I really hope that things turn around for them, the festival will really be missed!