Naomi Shihab Nye focuses on ordinary people and ordinary situations, which, when rendered through the poems in Fuel, become remarkable. The poet imagines the border families of southern Texas, small ferns and forgotten books, Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East. Nye has written, "Lives unlike mine, you save me."
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Naomi Shihab Nye focuses on ordinary people and ordinary situations, which, when rendered through the poems in Fuel, become remarkable. The poet imagines the border families of southern Texas, small ferns and forgotten books, Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East. Nye has written, "Lives unlike mine, you save me."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"What will be forgotten/ falls over me/ like the sky/ over our whole neighborhood," writes Nye in her sixth full-length collection, lamenting the memories that will disappear with departing Texas neighbors. Nye, who is also a noted YA novelist and anthologist of poems for children (The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems and Paintings from the Middle East, Forecasts, Mar. 2), spent part of her adolescence with family in Palestinian Jerusalem, and in another poem likens memories to the "broken bits,/ chips" swept away by the glass seller on the Via Dolorosa. But even as her speaker evokes a world that's fading from recollection and struggles to abide a life where "our tea has trouble being sweet," she finds wry consolation in "Pancakes with Santa" ("What else can we say to Santa?/ Santa says ain't"), and can take pleasure in watching a man letter a sign in Arabic and English. Such small-scale multi-ethnic negotiations run through the collectionfrom the Japanese city of Yokohama to Hebron and back to the poet's San Antonio homeand offer microcosmic takes on larger conflicts: "No one hears the soldiers come at night/ to pluck the olive tree from its cool sleep./ Ripping up its roots. This is not a headline/ in your country or mine." Nye's witnessings of everday life and strife never quite acquire collective force, yet they convey a delicate sense of moral concern and a necessary sense of urgency. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
The author of a YA novel (Habibi) and editor of a few anthologies of poems for children, Nye (The Red Suitcase) not surprisingly values the innocence of the young; her poems exult in simple things and possibilities, for þNOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE,þshe shouts. But her hope sometimes borders on naive, especially when she proclaims, þthe word þtogetherþ wants to live in every house.þ Nyeþs þravenous joyþ often involves her son, who says all kinds of cute stuff, and whose everyday profundities she records seriatim (þOne Boy Told Meþ); and with whom she chats at the ballet; and who also teaches her the mysteries of roller-skating, and, of course, love (þSo Thereþ). Nye also delights in used clothing, the pencil, carnivals, rising early, and her husbandþs New England ancestors. She herself never fails to remind us indifferent Westerners of her fatherþs Palestinian roots, and the sadness she finds in the old country, where theyþve given up parties for war, and ancient olive trees are uprooted. There are some other sorrows in these simple poems, but theyþre mostly remoteþthe victims of war, those suffering from a drought, and a lonely widower. Nyeþs gentle parables find expression in occasional prose: a girl cries on the beach in Honolulu; the poet receives phone calls meant for a rowdy bar; andþalasþall her mail (in þSad Mailþ) seems to be from people wanting things from her, the powerful poet. At her best, Nye trills childlike songs of joy, but her efforts to balance all the enthusiasm strain for seriousness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781938160561
  • Publisher: BOA Editions, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 12/20/2013
  • Series: American Poets Continuum
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 65
  • Sales rank: 910,562
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Naomi Shihab Nye, poet, essayist, anthologist, has been a recipient of writing fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Witter Bynner Foundation/Library of Congress. Author of more than twenty volumes, her recent books include Mint Snowball and 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East which was selected as a National Book Award finalist in 2002. Her books of poems include Fuel (BOA Editions) and Red Suitcase (BOA). Nye's work has been featured on the PBS poetry specials NOW with Bill Moyers , The Language of Life with Bill Moyers and The United States of Poetry . She has read her work on National Public Radio's Prairie Home Companion. Poetry editor for The Texas Observer, Nye has worked for as a visiting writer in schools at all educational levels. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.
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Table of Contents

Muchas Gracias por Todo 13
Bill's Beans 14
Wedding Cake 15
Genetics 17
Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things 19
Elevator 20
Cape Cod 22
Being from St. Louis 24
Eye Test 26
The Small Vases from Hebron 27
Darling 29
One Boy Told Me 31
Boy and Mom at the Nutcracker Ballet 34
Passing It On 36
Always Bring a Pencil 38
Your Name Engraved on a Grain of Rice 39
San Antonio Mi Sangre: From the Hard Season 41
Wind and the Sleeping Breath of Men 43
What's Here 45
Waikiki 46
Ongoing 47
Boy's Sleep 48
Glint 49
Early Riser 50
Fundamentalism 51
Ducks 52
New Year 54
My Friend's Divorce 55
Visit 56
The Palestinians Have Given Up Parties 57
Half-and-Half 60
Butter Box 61
Smoke 62
Alone 64
Alphabet 66
Feather 68
Hidden 70
Waiting to Cross 71
Estate Sale 72
Lost 74
Puff 75
Snow 77
Steps 79
Books We Haven't Touched in Years 80
The Rider 81
Solve Their Problems 82
Messenger 83
Living at the Airport 85
String 86
Fuel 87
Coming Soon 88
Pancakes with Santa 90
Alaska 91
So There 92
Across the Bay 94
My Uncle's Favorite Coffee Shop 96
Enthusiasm in Two Parts 98
Our Son Swears He Has 102 Gallons of Water in His Body 99
Morning Glory 100
Boy and Egg 102
The Time 103
Last Song for the Mend-it Shop 104
How Far Is It to the Land We Left? 107
Our Principal 108
Point of Rocks, Texas 109
Pause 110
Luggage 112
The Turtle Shrine Near Chittagong 113
Keep Driving 115
The Difficult Life of a Yokohama Leaf 118
Listening to Poetry in a Language I Do Not Understand 119
From This Distance 120
Sad Mail 121
Public Opinion 122
Open House 123
Quiet of the Mind 124
Return 125
Vocabulary of Dearness 126
Pollen 127
The Last Day of August 129
I Still Have Everything You Gave Me 131
Acknowledgments 132
About the Author 134
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