“I have always loved the gaps, the spaces between things, as much as the things. I love staring, pondering, mulling, puttering. I love the times when someone or something is late—there’s that rich possibility of noticing more, in the meantime…Poetry calls us to pause. There is so much we overlook, while the abundance around us continues to shimmer, on its own.” - Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father was a Palestinian refugee and her mother an American. Throughout her early years and in high school, she lived in Ramallah in Palestine, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas. She ended up receiving her BA in English and World Religions from Trinity University in San Antonio. Her experiences in these different cultures, even at a young age, has influenced many of her works.
Nye often writes about her experiences as an Arab-American through her poems and books. She illustrates her heritage and peaceful spirit through her well-rounded and diverse pieces. Despite authoring some books, she is best known as a poet and has won a multitude of awards for her poems. For example, she received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award for You and Yours in 2005. She has also obtained honors from the International Poetry Forum and the Texas Institute of Letters, as well as the Carity Randall Prize and Lavan Award. She still has been successful as a children’s author, winning the Jane Addams Children’s Book award in 1998 for Habibi. Her poems and short stories have appeared in a numerous journals throughout the world as well.
Following September 11th, Nye became a major figure for Arab-Americans by speaking out against terrorism and prejudice. She wrote a collection of poems that was published as one novel, 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, that dealt with the lack of understanding between Arabs and Americans. She received a lot of praise for this work due to the timeliness and thought put into her message. Finally, in 2009, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Today, she lives in San Antonio, Texas.
"Naomi Shihab Nye." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
"Naomi Shihab Nye." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.