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Naomi Shihab Nye (Arabic: نعومي شهاب ناي‎), (born March 12, 1952) is a poet, songwriter, and novelist. She was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother. She began composing her first poem at the age of six and has published or contributed to over 30 volumes. Her works include poetry, young-adult fiction, picture books, and novels.[1] Although she calls herself a "wandering poet", she refers to San Antonio as her home. She says a visit to her grandmother in the West Bank village of Sinjil was a life-changing experience. Nye received the 2013 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature in honor of her entire body of work as a writer.[2]

Naomi Shihab Nye
Born (1952-03-12) March 12, 1952 (age 67)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
OccupationPoet, Songwriter


Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet and songwriter born in 1952 to a Palestinian father and American mother. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas.[3] However, San Antonio is where she considers home, "San Antonio feels most like home as I have lived here the longest. But everywhere can be home the moment you unpack, make a tiny space that feels agreeable". San Antonio is the inspiration behind many of her poems.[4] Both roots and sense of place are major themes in her body of work.

Her first collection of poems, Different Ways to Pray, explored the theme of similarities and differences between cultures, which would become one of her lifelong areas of focus. Her other books include poetry collections 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, Red Suitcase, and Fuel; a collection of essays entitled Never in a Hurry; a young-adult novel called Habibi (the autobiographical story of an Arab-American teenager who moves to Jerusalem in the 1970s) and picture book Lullaby Raft, which is also the title of one of her two albums of music. (The other is called Rutabaga-Roo; both were limited-edition.)

Nye has edited many anthologies of poems, for audiences both young and old. One of the best-known is This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from around the World, which contains translated work by 129 poets from 68 different countries. Her most recent anthology is called Is This Forever, Or What?: Poems & Paintings from Texas. Her poems are frank and accessible, often making use of ordinary images in startling ways. Her ability to enter into foreign experiences and chronicle them from the inside is reminiscent of Elizabeth Bishop, while her simple and direct "voice" is akin to that of her mentor William Stafford.

She has won many awards and fellowships, among them four Pushcart Prizes, the Jane Addams Children's Book award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and many notable book and best book citations from the American Library Association. She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress).[5] Today Shihab Nye lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family. She characterizes herself as a "wandering poet," and says that much of her poetry is inspired by her childhood memories and her travels.


Nye’s first two chapter books, Tattooed Feet (1977) and Eye-to-Eye (1978), are written in free verse and possess themes of questing. Nye’s first full-length collection, Different Ways to Pray (1980), explores the differences between and shared experiences of cultures from California to Texas and from South America to Mexico. Hugging the Jukebox (1982), a full-length collection that won the Voertman Poetry Prize, focuses on the connections between diverse peoples and on the perspectives of those in other lands. Yellow Glove (1986) presents poems with more tragic and sorrowful themes. According to the Poetry Foundation, Fuel (1998) may be Nye’s most acclaimed volume and ranges over a variety of subjects, scenes and settings.[6]

Nye's poem Famous was referenced and quoted in full by Judge Andre Davis in his concurring opinion on the case G. G. v. Gloucester County School Board.[7]

Awards and recognitionEdit

Nye has won many awards and fellowships, among them four Pushcart Prizes, the Jane Addams Children's Book award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and many notable book and best book citations from the American Library Association, and a 2,000 Witter Bynner Fellowship.[8] In 1997, Trinity University, her alma mater, honored her with the Distinguished Alumna Award.

In June 2009, Nye was named as one of's first peace heroes.[9] In 2013, Nye won the Robert Creeley Award.[10]

In October 2012, she was named laureate of the 2013 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature.[11] The NSK Prize is a juried award sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and World Literature Today magazine. In her nominating statement, Ibtisam Barakat, the juror who championed Nye for the award wrote, “Naomi’s incandescent humanity and voice can change the world, or someone’s world, by taking a position not one word less beautiful than an exquisite poem.” Barakat commended her work by saying, “Naomi’s poetry masterfully blends music, images, colors, languages, and insights into poems that ache like a shore pacing in ebb and flow, expecting the arrival of meaning.”[12]

Published worksEdit


  • Different Ways to Pray: Poems. Breitenbush Publications. 1980. ISBN 978-0-932576-04-0.
  • Hugging the Jukebox. Dutton. 1982. ISBN 978-0-525-47703-7.
  • Yellow Glove. Breitenbush Books. 1986. ISBN 978-0-932576-41-5.
  • Red Suitcase: Poems. BOA Editions. 1994. ISBN 978-1-880238-14-1.
  • Fuel: poems. BOA Editions, Ltd. 1998. ISBN 978-1-880238-63-9.
  • 19 varieties of gazelle: poems of the Middle East. HarperCollins. 2002. ISBN 978-0-06-009766-0.
  • You & yours: poems. BOA Editions, Ltd. 2005. ISBN 978-1-929918-69-0.
  • A Maze Me: Poems for Girls. Greenwillow Books. 2005. ISBN 978-0060581893
  • Honeybee: poems & short prose. Greenwillow Books. 2008. ISBN 978-0060853907
  • Tender Spot: Selected Poems. Bloodaxe Books. 2008. ISBN 978-1-85224-791-1
  • Transfer. BOA Editions, Ltd. 2011. ISBN 978-1934414644.
  • "Kindness"

In Anthology


Short StoriesEdit


  • Rutabaga-Roo — I've Got a Song and It's for You (Flying Cat, 1979)


Critical studiesEdit

  • Gómez-Vega, Ibis. "The Art of Telling Stornoyies in the Poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye." MELUS 26.4 (Winter 2001): 245-252.
  • Gómez-Vega, Ibis. "Extreme Realities: Naomi Shihab Nye's Essays and Poems." Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 30 (2010): 109-133.
  • Mercer, Lorraine, and Linda Strom. "Counter Narratives: Cooking Up Stories of Love and Loss in Naomi Shihab Nye's Poetry and Diana Abu-Jaber's Crescent." MELUS 32.4 (Winter 2007):
  • Orfalea, Gregory. "Doomed by Our Blood to Care: The Poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye." Paintbrush 18.35 (Spring 1991): 56-66.



  1. ^ "2013 NSK Neustadt Laureate Naomi Shihab Nye". The Neustadt Prizes. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  2. ^ "Naomi Shihab Nye Wins 2013 NSK Prize". The Neustadt Prizes.
  3. ^ Contemporary American women poets : an A-to-Z guide. Cucinella, Catherine. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. 2002. ISBN 978-0313317835. OCLC 144590762.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Long, Kate; Nye, Naomi Shihab (2009). "Roots: On Language and Heritage: A Conversation with Naomi Shihab Nye". World Literature Today. 83 (6): 31–34. JSTOR 20621789.
  5. ^ Barakat, Ibtisam (2014). "A Tribute to Naomi Shihab Nye". World Literature Today. 88 (1): 46–49. doi:10.7588/worllitetoda.88.1.0046. JSTOR 10.7588/worllitetoda.88.1.0046.
  6. ^ "Naomi Shihab Nye". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  7. ^ "Poetry in the courtroom". Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  8. ^ "Poetry in America Celebration - News Releases (Library of Congress)". February 25, 2000. Archived from the original on June 5, 2000. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  9. ^ "One of the Top Christian Colleges in Indiana | Goshen College". Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  10. ^ "Robert Creeley Award". Robert Creeley Foundation. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  11. ^ "Naomi Shihab Nye Wins 2013 NSK Prize".
  12. ^ "NSK Children's Prize". World Literature Today. Retrieved November 13, 2013.

Further readingEdit

  • Art at Our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers and Artists featuring Naomi Shihab Nye. Edited by Nan Cuba and Riley Robinson (Trinity University Press, 2008).

External linksEdit