• Lawrence Clayton Poets & Writers Speaker Series

    Naomi Shihab Nye

    Poet, Essayist, Song Writer,
    Children’s Book Author & Editor

    Poet William Stafford said of Ms. Nye: “In the current literary scene, one of the most heartening influences is the work of Naomi Shihab Nye. Her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.”

    Naomi Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother and grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. After receiving her B. A. from Trinity University in 1974, she was selected as a traveling poet with the Writers in the Schools program, sponsored by the Texas Commission on the Arts. In the late 1970s, Ms. Nye taught poetry to students in the Abilene schools. She has worked for twenty-eight years as a visiting writer in schools and universities around the country. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in San Antonio, and her experiences traveling in many parts of the world, including Asia and the Middle East, Ms. Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity.

    Naomi Shihab Nye is the author or editor of more than twenty volumes. Her books of poetry include Different Ways To Pray, Hugging The Jukebox, Yellow Glove, Words Under The Words: Selected Poems, Fuel, Red Suitcase, and 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (a finalist for the 2002 National Book Award). Her children’s novel Habibi won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award; a novel for teens, Florrie Will Do It, is forthcoming. Her children’s picture books include Sitti’s Secrets which also won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, Come With Me: Poems for a Journey, and the forthcoming Baby Radar. She has a collection of essays Never in a Hurry: Essays on People and Places, and she has edited several books of poetry for children, including The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems and Paintings from the Middle East, This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World, Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets, What Have You Lost?, The Tree is Older than You Are: A Bilingual Gathering of Poems and Stories from Mexico, and forthcoming in the winter 2004 list, Is This Forever or What? Poems and Paintings from Texans. Selected books are available at the Hardin-Simmons University Book Store.

    Naomi Nye has received many prestigious awards. She was a Lannan Foundation Fellow for 2003, a Guggenheim Fellow for 1997-98, and a Wittner Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress) for 2000. She has also received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, four Pushcart Prizes, and numerous awards and citations for her children’s literature.

    She is the poetry editor for The Texas Observer and a regular columnist for Organica magazine. Her work has been presented on such National Public Radio shows as A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac. She has been featured on two PBS poetry specials--The Language of Life with Bill Moyers and The United States of Poetry, as well as on the PBS program NOW with Bill Moyers.

    Naomi Shihab Nye currently lives in a 100-year-old house in San Antonio with her husband, photographer Michael Nye, and their teenage son. Michael Nye’s photography show “Children of Children: Portraits and Stories of Teen-age Parents" was featured at Abilene’s The Grace Museum.

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