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In You and Yours, Naomi Shihab Nye continues her conversation with ordinary people whose lives become, through her empathetic use of poetic language, extraordinary. Nye writes of local life in her inner-city Texas neighborhood, about rural schools and urban communities she’s visited in this country, as well...
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In You and Yours, Naomi Shihab Nye continues her conversation with ordinary people whose lives become, through her empathetic use of poetic language, extraordinary. Nye writes of local life in her inner-city Texas neighborhood, about rural schools and urban communities she’s visited in this country, as well as the daily rituals of Jews and Palestinians who live in the war-torn Middle East.
I missed the day on which it was said others should not have certain weapons, but we could.
Not only could, but should,
I missed that day.
Was I sleeping?
I might have been digging in the yard,
doing something small and slow as usual.
Or maybe I wasn’t born yet.
What about all the other people who aren’t born?
Who will tell them?
Balancing direct language with a suggestive “aslantness,” Nye probes the fragile connection between language and meaning. She never shies from the challenge of trying to name the mysterious logic of childhood or speak truth to power in the face of the horrors of war. She understands our lives are marked by tragedy, inequity, and misunderstanding, and that our best chance of surviving our losses and shortcomings is to maintain a heightened awareness of the sacred in all things.
Naomi Shihab Nye, poet, editor, anthologist, is a recipient of writing fellowships from the Lannan and Guggenheim foundations. Nye’s work has been featured on PBS poetry specials including NOW with Bill Moyers, The Language of Life with Bill Moyers, and The United States of Poetry. She has traveled abroad as a visiting writer on three Arts America tours sponsored by the United States Information Agency. In 2001 she received a presidential appointment to the National Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Posted September 28, 2005
'What countries may we/ sing into?/ What lines should we all/ be crossing?' Naomi Shihab Nye writes poems of grace and humor and wit and tension and ache and remembrance and longing - and of everyday life. Such a sweep of huge ideas comes from her intelligent pen! Living in San Antonio, Texas with her child encourages her to observe the fundamentals of living, of loving, of finding the beauty/spiritual in all things. These poems of Part One of this extraordinary collection are about living.Part Two contains the poetry that speaks most clearly to this reader. While she is always competent to address the darker side of all things in her poems of Part One, in this second body of work she turns her vigilant eye to the horrors of war, giving words to the overwhelming facts of tragedy, death, inequity, and all the unimaginables that escort war in the Middle East - no, in all wars. 'There is no 'stray' bullet, sirs./ No bullet like a worried cat/ crouching under a bush,/ no half-hairless puppy bullet/ dodging midnight streets. The bullet could not be a pecan/ plunking the tin roof,/ not hardly, no fluff of pollen/ on October¿s breath, no humble pebble at our feet....So don't gentle it, please....This bullet had no secret happy hopes,/ it was not singing to itself with eyes closed/ under the bridge.' Perhaps it is her Palestinian-American heritage that makes her insight into the ongoing elegy for the Middle East so poignant, or perhaps it is simply that she is a very fine poet, a seer able to paste together the minutiae of living each day with the epoch of facing war head on. She has the gift and we are the better for it. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.