Naomi shihab nye the arab american struggle
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Naomi Shihab Nye: The Arab American Struggle. Aimee Freeman Annie Ludlow Casey Marx Lauren Murphy.

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Naomi shihab nye the arab american struggle

Naomi Shihab Nye: The Arab American Struggle

Aimee Freeman

Annie Ludlow

Casey Marx

Lauren Murphy

"Anyone who says,“Here’s my address, write me a poem,”deserves something in reply. So I’ll tell you a secret instead: poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes, they are sleeping. They are the shadows drifting across our ceilings the moment before we wake up. What we have to do is live in a way that lets us find them."


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.

Common patterns
Common Patterns

  • Theme: Cultural struggle between two ethnicity groups.

  • Structure: Chronological order.

  • Style and content of poems: Experiences from real life.

  • Literary Devices: Imagery, personification, symbol, similes, and metaphors.

Making a fist
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

watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.

My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

"How do you know if you are going to die?"

I begged my mother.

We had been traveling for days.

With strange confidence she answered,

"When you can no longer make a fist."

Years later I smile to think of that journey,

the borders we must cross separately,

stamped with our unanswerable woes.

I who did not die, who am still living,

still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,

clenching and opening one small hand.

Half and half
Half and Half

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

feel holy. Dusting of powdered sugar

across faces of date-stuffed mamool.

This morning we lit the slim white candles

which bend over at the waist by noon.

For once the priests weren't fighting

in the church for the best spots to stand.

As a boy, my father listened to them fight.

This is partly why he prays in no language

but his own. Why I press my lips

to every exception.

A woman opens a window—here and here and here—

placing a vase of blue flowers

on an orange cloth. I follow her.

She is making a soup from what she had left

in the bowl, the shriveled garlic and bent bean.

She is leaving nothing out.

Literary criticism
Literary Criticism


  • “shihabnye’s inability to confront evil”

  • “provides an unrealistic portrait of human nature, addresses evil only at a slant, never directly”

  • “not very good with evil”


  • “her poetry creates no bounderies.”

  • “engages her readers in the debate over war, peace, and tolerance”

Literary criticism1
Literary Criticism

  • We agree on:

  • “shihabnye’s inability to confront evil”

  • -poems are still light

  • “creates no boundries”

  • -poems are unique and explore different ideas

Literary criticism2
Literary Criticism

  • We disagree on:

  • “not very good with evil”

  • her letter to the terrorist

  • “Jerusalem”

  • Rid hatred and conflict


“Let’s be the same wound if we must bleed.

Let’s fight side by side, even if the enemy

is ourselves: I am yours, you are mine.”

—Tommy Olofsson, Sweden

I’m not interested in

who suffered the most.

I’m interested in

people getting over it.

Once when my father was a boy

a stone hit him on the head.

Hair would never grow there.

Our fingers found the tender spot

and its riddle: the boy who has fallen

stands up. A bucket of pears

in his mother’s doorway welcomes him home.

The pears are not crying.

Later his friend who threw the stone

says he was aiming at a bird.

And my father starts growing wings.

Naomi shihab nye the arab american struggle

Each carries a tender spot:

something our lives forgot to give us.

A man builds a house and says,

“I am native now.”

A woman speaks to a tree in place

of her son. And olives come.

A child’s poem says,

“I don’t like wars,

they end up with monuments.”

He’s painting a bird with wings

wide enough to cover two roofs at once.

Why are we so monumentally slow?

Soldiers stalk a pharmacy:

big guns, little pills.

If you tilt your head just slightly

it’s ridiculous.

There’s a place in my brain

where hate won’t grow.

I touch its riddle: wind, and seeds.

Something pokes us as we sleep.

It’s late but everything comes next.