"Tell me how to live so many lives at once ..."
Fowzi, who beats everyone at dominoes; Ibtisam, who wanted to be a doctor; Abu Mahmoud, who knows every eggplant and peach in his West Bank garden; mysterious Uncle Mohammed, who moved to the mountain; a girl in a red sweater dangling a book bag; children in velvet dresses who haunt the candy bowl at the party; Baba Kamalyari, age 71; Mr. Dajani and his swans; Sitti Khadra, who never lost her peace inside.
Maybe they have something to tell us.
Naomi Shihab Nye has been writing about being Arab-American, about Jerusalem, about the West Bank, about family all her life. These new and collected poems of the Middle East -- sixty in all -- appear together here for the first time.
Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father was a Palestinian refugee and her mother an American of German and Swiss descent, and she spent her adolescence in both Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas. She earned her BA from Trinity University in San Antonio. Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet.” She has spent more than forty years traveling the country and the world, leading writing workshops and inspiring students of all ages.
Naomi Shihab Nye is the author and/or editor of more than thirty books. Her books of poetry for adults and young people include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (a finalist for the National Book Award); A Maze Me: Poems for Girls; Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners; Honeybee (winner of the Arab American Book Award); Cast Away: Poems of Our Time (one of the Washington Post’s best books of 2020); Come with Me: Poems for a Journey; and Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems. Her other volumes of poetry include Red Suitcase; Words Under the Words; Fuel; Transfer; You & Yours; Mint Snowball; and The Tiny Journalist. Her collections of essays include Never in a Hurry and I’ll Ask You Three Times, Are You Okay?: Tales of Driving and Being Driven.
Naomi Shihab Nye has edited nine acclaimed poetry anthologies, including This Same Sky: Poems from Around the World; The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems from the Middle East; Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25; and What Have You Lost? Her picture books include Sitti’s Secrets, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, and her acclaimed fiction includes Habibi; The Turtle of Oman (winner of the Middle East Book Award) and its sequel, The Turtle of Michigan (honorable mention for the Arab American Book Award).
Naomi Shihab Nye has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She has received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, the Robert Creeley Award, and "The Betty," from Poets House, for service to poetry, and numerous honors for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards. In 2011 Nye won the Golden Rose Award given by the New England Poetry Club, the oldest poetry-reading series in the country. Her work has been presented on National Public Radio on A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac. She has been featured on two PBS poetry specials, including The Language of Life with Bill Moyers, and she also appeared on NOW with Bill Moyers. She has been affiliated with the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin for twenty years and served as poetry editor at the Texas Observer for twenty years. In 2019–20 she was the poetry editor for the New York Times Magazine. She is Chancellor Emeritus for the Academy of American Poets and laureate of the 2013 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature, and in 2017 the American Library Association presented Naomi Shihab Nye with the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award. In 2018 the Texas Institute of Letters named her the winner of the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. She was named the 2019–21 Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. In 2020 she was awarded the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement by the National Book Critics Circle. In 2021 she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Naomi Shihab Nye is professor of creative writing-poetry at Texas State University.