Naomi Shihab Nye


Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri, to a Palestinian father and an American mother. During her high school years, she lived in Ramallah in Palestine, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her BA in English and world religions from Trinity University. Nye is the author of numerous books of poems, most recently Cast Away: Poems for Our Time (Greenwillow Books, 2020). Her other books of poetry include The Tiny Journalist (BOA Editions, 2019); You and Yours (BOA Editions, 2005), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award; and 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (Greenwillow Books, 2002), a collection of new and selected poems about the Middle East. She is also the author of several books of poetry and fiction for children, including Habibi (Simon Pulse, 1997), for which she received the Jane Addams Children's Book award in 1998. Nye’s honors include awards from the International Poetry Forum and the Texas Institute of Letters, the Carity Randall Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement Award, and four Pushcart Prizes. She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow. In 1988, she received the Academy of American Poets' Lavan Award, judged by W. S. Merwin. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2010 to 2015, and is the Poetry Foundation's Young People's Poet Laureate from 2019-2021. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas. Source

Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things

She is holding the book close to her body,

carrying it home on the cracked sidewalk,

down the tangled hill.

If a dog runs at her again, she will use the book as a shield.


She looked hard among the long lines

of books to find this one.

When they start talking about money,

when the day contains such long and hot places,

she will go inside.

An orange bed is waiting.

Story without corners.

She will have two families.

They will eat at different hours.


She is carrying a book past the fire station

and the five and dime.


What this town has not given her

the book will provide; a sheep,

a wilderness of new solutions.

The book has already lived through its troubles.

The book has a calm cover, a straight spine.


When the step returns to itself,

as the best place for sitting,

and the old men up and down the street

are latching their clippers,


she will not be alone.

She will have a book to open

and open and open.

Her life starts here.






Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Childhood & Coming of Age

Literary Devices:


the repetition of conjunctions frequently and in close proximity in a sentence

Varied syntax

diverse sentence structure