Naomi Shihab Nye

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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

How Do I Know When a Poem Is Finished?

When you quietly close

the door to a room

the room is not finished.

 

It is resting. Temporarily.

Glad to be without you

for a while.

 

Now it has time to gather

its balls of gray dust,

to pitch them from corner to corner.

 

Now it seeps back into itself,

unruffled and proud.

Outlines grow firmer.

 

When you return,

you might move the stack of books,

freshen the water for the roses.

 

I think you could keep doing this

forever. But the blue chair looks best

with the red pillow. So you might as well

 

leave it that way.

Published:

2008

Length:

Shorty

Literary Movements:

Contemporary

Anthology Years:

2022

Themes:

Ars Poetica

Literary Devices:

Enjambment

a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem

Varied syntax

diverse sentence structure