Naomi Shihab Nye <3 Barack Obama

By Poetry Foundation

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