Poet Naomi Shihab Nye will read her work this Thursday night as at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her numerous books of poetry include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, Red Suitcase, Words Under the Words, Fuel, and You & Yours (a best-selling poetry book of 2006).

What line or poem do you find yourself sharing again and again?

William Stafford's "Evening News" - the last line begging the grass to help "everything go deep again."

On your bookshelf but unread:

Approximately 158 lovely-looking books—waiting patiently.

Can you remember the first poem you read and really liked?

I recall feeling a calm sizzle and a dazzle deep inside when my mom read Emily Dickinson poems to me—I must have been 4 or 3. I asked her to read them again and she did. The air felt more spacious, so suddenly.

A cause you would attach your name to:

Palestinian statehood, end of the occupation.

The picture that comes to mind when you hear the word “poetry”

Wide air, sky, open-ness, calm, spacious gazing at horizons, clouds...

If forced to quote your own writing, what line or poem would you provide?

Walk around feeling like a leaf. ("The Art of Disappearing")

Expression you greatly dislike:

"No problem" instead of "You're welcome" - when someone says thank you.

The longest amount of time you’ve gone without writing [creatively]?

Not long at all! A day? Two days, when we were having our son?

Favorite public figure:

President Barack Obama

Favorite literary device:


When I think of Chicago, I think of:

The first poem I ever wrote, age 6, which was called Chicago, had 4 humble lines, and made me feel satisfied and happy. I love your city! It was my first great city, besides St. Louis, where I was born (St. Louis always had a much more melancholy air -- and very different pace - slower!)

What can we expect from your reading on Thursday?

I will be reading a few old but mostly newer poems in Chicago and am so happy about being there again. I would hope my reading style is informal, relaxed, friendly.

Originally Published: November 2nd, 2010