Naomi Shihab Nye Brings Her Journey of Poetry

Describing her fear of canoeing in alligator-infested waters, visiting poet Naomi Shihab Nye recounted exciting memories from her trip to Louisiana as she read her own pieces and those of other poets in Kemper Auditorium last Friday. An acclaimed poet, Nye has been awarded four Pushcart Prizes and the Paterson Poetry Prize, among other awards. Describing poetry as a way to transport people, Nye shared her collection of poems and the memories and experiences linked to them. She carried listeners from a humorous subject to a serious one, from a theme about virtue to one about communication and misunderstanding. “I thought it was interesting how her poetry [told] a story of something she experienced, rather than describing nature or something [else],” said Isabella Berkley ’15. Nye began her reading with her poem “The Sun,” written from the perspective of a four-year-old who just learned to write, a week before writing the poem. Like Nye, who knew from a very young age that she wanted to become a writer, this four-year-old shared a similar dream to be a writer. Reading a poem that she wrote about an advice column, Nye brought humor into her presentation. In the column, people asked about being less favored than an old gallon of milk and having a skeptical dog continuously barking at them. Nye wrote that after reading an advice column, almost everything becomes an advice column, as people seek advice from those around them. Nye then described Arabian hospitality. Nye said, quoting an old Arab proverb, “Feed him for three days before asking him where he is from because by then he will have the strength to answer, or you will be such great friends that you won’t care.” In her poetry, Nye also wove in details about the Israeli-Palestino conflict regarding the relationship between the Palestinian and Israeli people. “The children ask for peace. This war was not their choice,” she said. Along with this idea of unity, Nye shared several personal experiences. She recalled one at an airport, where a group of women waiting for the same delayed flight came together with cookies as a common glue. Nye said, “We were all covered with the same powdered sugar, smiling.” Miranda An ’15 said, “[Nye’s] presentation showed her passion for poetry, especially in the way she read her poems. She told of her inspiration in an exciting way, intriguing the audience.”