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Naomi Shihab Nye. “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 us – them lead us somewhere.”-Naomi Shihab Nye. Georgia Bancheri, Jane Falduto, and Colin Verdi. Nyography. Born March 12 th , 1952

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naomi shihab nye

Naomi Shihab Nye

“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 us – them lead us somewhere.”-Naomi Shihab Nye

Georgia Bancheri, Jane Falduto, and Colin Verdi

  • Born March 12th, 1952
  • Father is Palestinian and mother is American
  • Grew up in Saint Louis and Jerusalem
  • Inspired by William Stafford (American poet)
  • Worked as a teacher
  • Has a son and a husband
  • BA in World Religions and English from Trinity University
  • Presently lives in San Antonio, Texas
  • Grandmother lived to be 106
My Grandmother in the StarsIt is possible we will not meet againon earth. To think this fills my throatwith dust. Then there is only the skytying the universe together.Just now the neighbor's horse must be standingpatiently, hoof on stone, waiting for his dayto open. What you think of him,and the village's one heroic cow,is the knowledge i wish to gather.I bow to your rugged feet,the moth-eaten scarves that knot your hair.Where we live in the worldis never one place. Our heartsthose dogged mirrors, keep flashing usmoons before we are ready for them.You and I on a roof at sunset,our two languages adrift.Heart saying, Take this home with younever again,and only memory making us rich

-- Naomi Shihab Nye

how naomi nye s life influenced her poetry
How Naomi Nye’s Life Influenced Her Poetry
  • “I am humble in my country’s pain and I am furious.”- To Any Would-Be Terrorists
  • Can see situations through multiple viewpoints because of her mixed nationality
commonalities motifs and themes
CommonalitiesMotifs and Themes
  • Family and culture imbedded in poetry
  • Palestinian conflict
  • Addresses prejudices towards the Middle East
  • Tangential Structure (no fluent train of thought)
  • Theme comes from the conflicts going on in her country
  • Uses vivid images to allude to true meaning of poems

A boy told me

if he roller-skated fast enough

his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard

for trying to be a champion.

What I wonder tonight

pedaling hard down King William Street

is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness

panting behind you on some street corner

while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,

pink petals that have never felt loneliness,

no matter how slowly they fell.

commonalities literary devices
CommonalitiesLiterary Devices
  • Personification
  • Symbolism
  • Dialogue
  • Utilizes questions to confront confusion in her culture’s problems
  • “But skin felt it was never seen, never known as a land on the map, nose like a city, hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.”- Two Countries
two countries
Two Countries

Skin remembers how long the years growwhen skin is not touched, a gray tunnelof singleness, feather lost from the tailof a bird, swirling onto a step,swept away by someone who never sawit was a feather. Skin ate, walked,slept by itself, knew how to raise a see-you-later hand. But skin feltit was never seen, never known asa land on the map, nose like a city,hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosqueand the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.Skin had hope, that's what skin does.Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.Love means you breathe in two countries.And skin remembers--silk, spiny grass,deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own.Even now, when skin is not alone,it remembers being alone and thanks something largerthat there are travelers, that people go placeslarger than themselves.

what critics say about naomi nye
What Critics Say About Naomi Nye
  • Connects poems’ meaning to Nye’s life and culture
  • Uses her poetry to tell stories
  • “The best poems take a detailed image and expose its wider application to daily life.”
  • “This poet is always vigilant: the rhythms are sharp, the eye is keen.”
  • “She excels at the unexpected and brilliant detail that underwrites the poetic vision.”
  • “rich humanity of people who are often demonized”
we agree
We Agree
  • “deep concern for humanity”
  • “discovering one thing while examining another”
  • “forces the reader to look beneath the words to find a more profound meaning”
  • “overall idea is more complex than it appears”
  • “unwavering commitment to humanity”

Nye, Naomi Shihab. 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East. N.p.: Greenwillow Books, 2002.

Nye, Naomi Shihab. Red Suitcase. Brockport: BOA Editions, Ltd., 1994.

Nye, Naomi Shihab. Fuel. Rochester: BOA Editions, Ltd., 1998.