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19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  930 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
"Tell me how to live so many lives at once ..."

Fowzi, who beats everyone at dominoes; Ibtisam, who wanted to be a doctor; Abu Mahmoud, who knows every eggplant and peach in his West Bank garden; mysterious Uncle Mohammed, who moved to the mountain; a girl in a red sweater dangling a book bag; children in velvet dresses who haunt the candy bowl at the party; Baba Kamalyari,
Paperback, 160 pages
Published March 15th 2005 by Greenwillow Books (first published January 1st 1994)
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Sincerae Smith
I was thinking today before winding up 19 Varieties of Gazelle that these poems by Naomi Shihab Nye rather reminds me of Mahmoud Darwish's poetry. The author or these poems is half Palestinian and half American. Her father was born in Palestine.

Though living in America Shihab Nye was able to capture the beauty and wisdom of Arab poetry. Even in English translation, poetry by a number of Arab poets I've read is incredibly beautiful and touches my soul.

This collection is geared towards teenagers
Educating Drew
Dec 17, 2011 Educating Drew rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetic, 2010
"We need poetry for nourishment and for noticing, for the way language and imagery reach comfortably into experience, holding and connecting it more successfully than any news channel we could name." (xvi)

19 Varieties of Gazella is a book of poetry written about the middle east: the struggles, the food, the beliefs, but mostly the people. I think that this is more "my kinda" poetry book. Each poem is vivid, but not embedded in so many poetic devices that my mind wanders trying to decipher its m
Mar 11, 2011 AGastolek rated it really liked it
Shelves: mc-literature, poetry
The 60 poems written by Naomi Shihab Nye and published under a very peculiar title “19 Varieties of Gazelle” represent voices of people living in the Middle East. In her writing, the author describes neighbors, family members, friends and strangers and portrays their fears, anxieties and hopes. Through the eyes of a father burying his 4 month daughter and “silent Jewish and Arab women standing together”, the reader can see the nonsense of killing and living under constant mutual oppression. The ...more
Sep 10, 2016 Sandy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is knocking me out. It proves that beauty and the poetry of words and gentleness and respectful observation of the small details of our days and love for humanity (all of humanity) is larger than the sky and more powerful than force.
Jan 25, 2011 Meghan rated it really liked it
An empowering look into life in the Middle East. As an easy read, yet, not without taking the time to digest and absorb the in depth nature of the poems.
Richie Partington
Jul 15, 2013 Richie Partington rated it it was amazing
7 June 2002 19 VARIETIES OF GAZELLE: POEMS OF THE MIDDLE EAST by Naomi Shihab Nye, Greenwillow, April 2002

"In her first home each book has a light around it.
The voices of distant countries
floated in through open windows,
entering her soup and her mirror.
They slept with her in the same thick bed.
Someday she would go there.
Her voice, among all those voices.
In Iraq a book never had one owner--it had ten.
Lucky books, to be held often
and gently, by so many hands.
Later in American libraries she felt sa
Dec 29, 2014 Tristan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, a highly enjoyable collection. Naomi Shihab Nye does a very good job of giving the Middle east a human face. Now, I'm not one of those "All Muslims are evil" type people (although I have met them), but this book does a phenomenal job shattering that unfeeling self-deception. With poems like "The Man Who Makes Brooms" and "The Garden of Abu Mahmoud"(which may be my favorite two poems in the book) and "For the 500th Dead Palestinian, Ibtisam Bozieh" 19 Varieties of Gazelle paints a human ...more
Jul 25, 2010 Lindsey rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-eastern

Format: Poetry
Age level: High school
Protagonist: NA

This is a collection of poems, all written by Naomi Shihab Nye. All of the poems are written in free verse and reflect her life living in the middle east.

Unfortunately, I did not particularly enjoy this book. I was hoping to gain a greater understanding as to what life was like for the author, but that didn't happen. I think one of the problems is she seems to be writing from a Middle Eastern perspectiv
Ellen Shackley
Dec 10, 2012 Ellen Shackley rated it it was amazing
Genre: Poetry

Summary: This book is a collection of poetry by Naomi Shihab Nye about the various cultures, customs, people, and traditions in the Middle East. Many of her experiences and memories are fondly recorded in a free verse style of poetry.

A) Area of Focus: Organization

B) Poetry is often a daunting medium for young readers. It requires them to think beyond the actual text which can be difficult. The organization of the poems in an anthology such as this can make all of the difference in w
Feb 11, 2017 Sean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Nye's poetry connects a place to the people who inhabit it, the people who have left it, and the people who carry it within them.

It's easy for me to love this work because I see so much of my family - my wife's family - in it. Nye writes of a culture I wasn't born to, but chose, and live. And what she writes feels true; I see it in my mother-in-law's kitchen. In my father-in-law's garden, the town of Bireh, in the West Bank, where we walked from one relative's house to another, to another, to an
Alma Martinez
May 10, 2013 Alma Martinez rated it did not like it
I did not like this book at all. It began with an intro that mentioned a person who was just released from jail on the day 9/11 happened and began to talk about how the author's grandmother would have felt about that event in relation to Muslim Arabs in the Middle East, in particular. Had it not been for the brief intro many of these poems would have absolutely no meaning as it was.

With that in mind, many of the poems were about Nye's father and grandmother. There were also quite a few that were
Ginta Harrigan
May 31, 2013 Ginta Harrigan rated it really liked it
The book “19 Varieties of Gazelle” is a collection of poems about the Middle East.

Some of the poems are about people. “Flinn on the Bus” is about someone who was just released from prison hours after the twin towers fell in New York City. “Ibtisam” is about a girl who is killed thereby killing her dreams of being a doctor died as well. Some of the poems are about author Naomi Shihab Nye’s family – “My Grandmother in the Stars” and “For Mohammed on the Mountain.” And some are about peace. In “Je
Oct 10, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Masha, Kate, Roxane
Recommended to Laura by: found on library shelves
Shelves: poetry
Page 105 Untitled (Even On a Sorrowing Day)so amazing, a perfect short poem

The fact that the poems in this collection are all untitled may speak to the fact Nye writes here about the small untallied moments, about people of everday consequence but living in quiet anonyminty as far as the western world is concerned. A loving glimpse into the lives of Arab-Americans and Middle Eaterners.

I wrote a beautiful poem today and a few last week I thought were some of my best. But I am reading Tales of a S
Feb 11, 2009 Carrie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Teens with an interest in poetry and international affairs
I eat up Nye's poetry like a package of Oreos, completely enjoyable and addictive. Even though I have no personal connection with the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, her poems invited me in and made me feel like a humble visitor to this ancient culture. Peace in the Middle East is a noble thing to wish for and I'm sure her work is not completely in vain, but the unrest in that area is deeper than just two groups of people striving to share the same land. The Biblical signific ...more
Jul 05, 2010 Erin rated it liked it
I'll say it again, I'm not a big fan of poetry, but the introduction alone was enough to propel me through half the book. Nye talks about the terrorist attacks on September 11th and the importance of realizing that many, if not most, Middle Eastern people were not behind them. She discusses how she turns to poetry, and while I don't have a lot of patience for it, the images she creates with her verses are quite lovely.
Part of my trouble with poetry is that I am so used to traditional reading, wi
Sep 13, 2010 Michelle rated it really liked it
I don't normally sit down to read a book of poetry, but this one was well worth it. It is a collection of poems by a Muslim woman whose family left Iran in 1978 during the revolution and came to the States. Her poetry is beautiful and adequately describes the sorrow Muslims in the US feel about the conflict that continues in the Middle East between Muslims and Jews. Also, the pain Muslims here feel about 9/11 and the intense desire to not be associated with violent radicals.

I was reading this o
Kat High
Jan 16, 2016 Kat High rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
19 Varieties of Gazelle emphasizes the juxtaposition between peaceful Palestinian cultures and violence in the Middle East. Poetry can be a dense read. To really understand poetry you have to read and reread the poetry a couple of times, and you have to look into the cultural significance of words and images, and you usually have to look up some etymologies. To be perfectly honest, I read the whole thing more as a surface read. I was struck by the beautiful imagery and the poet's use of linguist ...more
May 01, 2013 Rll595ag_fabiolaginski rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-plays
I loved "19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East," by Naomi Shihab Nye. I think it is a wonderful book to share with children as a way of making connections with a culture different than their own. This book provides a window into the Middle East and its people and a way to show that despite obvious, surface differences there are many similarities among different cultures all around the world. Through the beautiful simplicity and honesty of her poetry, the author proves that there is l ...more
Liz Strode
AWARD AND HONORS: ALA Notable Children’s Book, Parents' Choice Silver Honor, School Library Journal Best Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, National Book Award Finalist, Horn Book Fanfare

In response to the attacks on 9/11 Naomi compiled these poems from the Middle East to help us see the connectedness we have with others. I found myself reading and rereading many of the poems in this collection over and over again. I am drawn most to her poems that use everyday objects as metaphors for other
Oct 25, 2009 Jill rated it really liked it
A finalist for the National Book Award, so reading I assigned myself.

From "Arabic Coffee"
"... When
he carried the tray into the room,
high and balanced in his hands,
it was an offering to all of them,
stay, be seated, follow the talk
wherever it goes. The coffee was
the center of the flower.
Like clothes on a line saying
You will live long enough to wear me,
a motion of faith. There is this,
and there is more.

"My Grandmother in the Stars"
"Where we live in the world
is never one place. Our heart
Corinne Wilson
This thoughtfully compiled collection of poetry focuses on the culture of the Middle East and the tensions between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Nye is one of my all-time favorite poets, but I would have enjoyed this volume of poetry more if there were context for some of the poems. Most need no explanation, especially if you read them carefully, but for others I had difficulty following her thoughts or wanted to know more about the person or place she was describing.

Book Quote:
“Are people the
Jun 06, 2016 RLL22016_EsmeraldaValerio rated it really liked it
Pretty good read. This book is a series of poems talking about the Middle East and the struggles and journeys that some individuals go though. This collection contained poems about the author itself, two members of her family and other individual such as that of an individual whose dreams of becoming someone important are crushed. I would recommend this book to people who want to read about other cultures in a different form that they usually do.
♥︎ yasmin
Feb 02, 2017 ♥︎ yasmin rated it really liked it
i plucked out this book while i was volunteering at the library & the cover itself was enough for me to pick it up. ♡ —

"the olives dusky gray-green shadow won't leave a single of its people alone. / it follows them inside their shadows / it loves them when they think there is no more loving . ." ive never read any of naomi shihabs books but her way of writing is enticing & yet gorgeous all at the same time. there's a hidden meaning behind every sentence, every letter, ever syllable. she
Nov 30, 2016 Casey rated it it was amazing
Beautiful writing by a wonderful poet on painful, difficult, emotion-enfused topics of love, war, misunderstanding, and a life in two worlds.

Personally, I found myself deeper engaged in the collections' Section Two than its Section One. Something about the writing style became less about flow-of-conscious writing and more metaphorical in its focus, in my reading. Perhaps it was also the type of emotion on display; Section One has moments of rushing anger I loved for their power.

All of it was lo
Cheryl Hager
For me, it's hard to rate poetry. More so than novels, poetry needs to make a connection to me (in some way) for me to understand it. As a white female from the United States, I found most of these poems hard to connect to as I do not know the culture nor have ever lived within or near a war zone. That being said, Part 2, of this book moved me than Part 1. I liked parts of some ("his deep eyes like furry animals curled into lairs for the winter"), ("fragrant nouns and muscular verbs") and all of ...more
Dec 25, 2016 Nikki rated it it was amazing
What a treat it has been to read one of these poems every night before I go to sleep, savoring the words and getting a glimpse into life in the Middle East. This would be a WONDERFUL book to share with kids to help them analyze poetry AND to learn about life in the Middle East. Here are my favorite lines, from the poem, 'Stanza',

"To live without roads seemed one way
not to get lost. To make maps
of stone and grass, to rub stars together,
find a spark."
Mar 10, 2017 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, children-s, 2017
19 Varieties of Gazelle is a collection of poetry about the Middle East, and that's about the extent of the commonalities in the poems. Some are about violence and peace and the ability to eliminate one and gain the other, and some are about fig trees, and some are about emigration and the need to find home again, and some are just about beauty and what you see when you look at people. A few of them were a bit opaque for me, but generally the poems are lovely and worth reading. The book's pretty ...more
Oct 09, 2016 Dusty rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
I mostly know Nye's poems for juvenile readers, and I was surprised at how layered and enjoyable this collection is. In generally simple language, she turns two very ugly crises in American history -- 9/11 and the Islamophobic response -- into a series of haunting images and lovely, thoughtful lines. Really glad I picked this up.
May 13, 2013 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, young-adult
In the wake of September 11, Nye collected in one volume her old and new poems about the Middle East--about her Palestinian-American identity, the immigrant experience in her family, and the people and places that have been torn by war. Her voice is powerful and important: In the introduction she writes, "It always felt good to be rooted and connected, but there were those deeply sorrowful headlines in the background to carry around like sad weights" (xiv), a feeling that will surely resonate wi ...more
Feb 13, 2011 Leane rated it did not like it
I was initially really excited to read this book of poems about life in the Middle-East. I got through about half of it, and finally gave up. And I never give up on books. EVER. I just didn't get any of it. I have a love/hate relationship with poetry, but I have developed a pretty strong respect for it over the years, especially the type of poetry that makes me think. But this poetry was just incomprehensible. I was trying to pick out some themes from the book that I could share in this review, ...more
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What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Middle-east themed poems [s] 4 11 Apr 07, 2015 01:05AM  
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Naomi Shihab Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother. During her high school years, she lived in Ramallah in Jordan, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her B.A. in English and world religions from Trinity University. She is a novelist, poet and songwriter.

She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas. She was elected a Chancellor of the Acad
More about Naomi Shihab Nye...

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“Where we live in the world
is never one place. Our hearts,
those dogged mirrors, keep flashing us
moons before we are ready for them.”
“We start out as little bits of disconnected dust.” 9 likes
More quotes…