Thursday, May 30, 2019

Celebrating Naomi Shihab Nye with "Hidden" and SKY

Hello and happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Mary Lee at A Year of Reading, to find links for our Naomi Shihab Nye celebration! Congratulations to Naomi on being named our newest Young People's Poet Laureate. Hooray!

The first Naomi poem I can remember reading/loving is this one:


If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will be
nearly invisible
as if the stone has 
swallowed it.

If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
the little sucked-in breath of air
hiding everywhere
beneath your words.

No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.

- Naomi Shihab Nye

It's a simple poem, really, but so TRUE, and I think that's part of Naomi's gift: making small things bigger in accessible, meaningful ways.

The latest book of hers I've been reading is an older (1992) anthology that demonstrates Naomi's editorial prowess: THIS SAME SKY MAGIC: A COLLECTION OF POEMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye. Here are two of my favorite selections:


Today I'm a hill,
tomorrow a sea.
Always wandering
like Miriam's well,
always a bubble
lost in the gorges.

Last night I dreamt
red horses, purple,
green --

In the morning I listened:
an endless babbling of water,
a chatter of parrots.

Today I"m a snail,
tomorrow a giant
palm tree.

Yesterday a cave,
today I'm a seashell.
I'll be tomorrow.

- Dahlia Ravikovitch
Translated by Chana Bloch and Ariel Bloch

... and this one, because it reminds me of a letter I received from my then-maybe 14 year old niece, who had just joined the track team at school and was so in love with running:


When I run
I laugh with my legs

When I run
I swallow the world with my legs

When I run
I have ten legs.
All my legs

I exist
only when running.

- Anna Swir
Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

I actually have an extra copy of this book, and I would like to pass it along to one of you... if you'd like to be entered in the giveaway, simply leave a comment by noon Tuesday June 4... and our cat Maggie will select a winner!
ETA: ... and the winner is RUTH! Yay! 


  1. We can learn so much about a poet by the poems she chooses for an anthology, can't we? I love those laughing legs! I never had legs like that, but maybe my arms giggle when I swim!! :-)

  2. That sounds like a wonderful anthology! I've read a couple of her anthologies, but not that one. Thanks for sharing these!

  3. I used this anthology a lot in class, Irene, & passed my copy along to a new teacher I mentored. I have many Nye books, so don't put me in the drawing. There are so many wonderful poems by Naomi Nye; choosing a favorite is hard. In one of the anthologies I shared today, she speaks again of "making small things bigger". It's something I wish all teachers could show their students. Thanks for sharing 'more' from Naomi!

  4. Irene, you are so right about Naomi's gift for "making small things bigger in accessible, meaningful ways." The poems you shared I have not read before so thank you. I thought I had a copy of "This Same Sky Magic" but I must have given it to a teacher before I left public education so thanks for offering the raffle..

  5. Yes, you have got at why I love Nye's poems so much - she can take something small and point it to a bigger truth in a way that is accessible and invites wonder rather than intimidation. I love the poems from the anthology--another one I need to hunt down to read.

  6. "When I run/I laugh with my legs" is such a wonderful line! Thank you for sharing all of these poems that make "small things bigger in accessible, meaningful ways."

  7. I love the "Magic" poem for all the possible places it carries us and our imaginations. And "Hidden" had so much depth tucked into so few lines. Thanks for sharing all these poems Irene, xo

  8. Love this book. I own a copy so no need for the giveaway.

  9. Love these poems Irene. I agree with you "part of Naomi's gift: making small things bigger in accessible, meaningful ways"
    It's one of the things I love about poetry in general - the capacity to reveal the macrocosm in the minute.

  10. "No one sees the fuel that feeds you." Indeed. We are complex and hold many secrets, don't we? Love this! -- Christie @

  11. This is a perfect way of describing Naomi's talent: "making small things bigger in accessible, meaningful ways." Thank you for sharing these poems today, Irene. I especially love "I Have Ten Legs" and am eager to use it as a mentor text!

  12. Thank you for these, Irene. I'm chiming in with others to say that I think your assessment of Nye's gift is spot on.


Your thoughts?