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19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East
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19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  656 ratings  ·  111 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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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
Christina (Reading Thru The Night)
"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
Oct 30, 2012 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Masha, Kate, Roxane
Recommended to Laura by: found on library shelves
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

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
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
Alma Martinez
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
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
Nathan Bartos
This book of poetry about the Middle East, particularly Israel and Pakistan, was absolutely nothing special. It's a book of poetry mainly written for children and young adults, so the language is very simple and rather easy to understand, which is absolutely fun, but when that takes away from the poetic form, we have a problem. There are a few stand-out poems such as "Jerusalem Headlines 2000," "All Things Not Considered," "Red Brocade," along with a few more, but that does not a solid poetry bo ...more
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.
Gretchen Alice
Naomi Shihab Nye's poems are lovely and stirring. I felt like I learned more about what it means to be Arab-American from this than I did from The Kite Runner. Like most poetry, the book is not meant to be read all at once, but rather savored in small bites. The book provides a good foundation for teens to understand the heartbreak and conflict present in the Middle East. One particular poem, “For the 500th Dead Palestinian, Ibtisam Bozieh” is particularly effective. The first verse recounts, “D ...more
Richie Partington
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
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
Ginta Harrigan
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
Ellen Shackley
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
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
I like to be reading a poetry book at all times. Sometimes it takes me months to finish a book, but I believe poems are a necessary part of life. Readers should take the time to find poets and poems that they like. Reading them out loud, or better yet hearing them read makes all the difference. If I am not enamored with every poem in a book, I am sure to find one or two that blow me away.

It took me awhile to get into these poems by Nye. I have read a lot of her work in anthologies and I like the
Feb 11, 2009 Carrie rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
I have to preface this review with the fact I'm not a poetry person. I read this to scope it out in order to use in my classroom when my English students are studying the Middle East in Social Studies I figured I could tie in with a poetry unit between novels. With that in mind, many of the poems in this book will work, as an entirety though, I cannot imagine 12 year olds reading it cover to cover. Many of them were beautiful glimpses into Arab culture, and others were just as memorable in their ...more
Jun 26, 2014 April added it
I never know how to rate poetry. How do you put a tag on somebodies feelings/thoughts/expressions? As I'm not familiar with the Arab culture there was a lot I didn't understand, but over all it was a pleasure to read. My favorite poems in the book were, "For Mohammed on the Mountain," and "Stone House."
Ages: 13 and up

"19 Varieties of Gazelle" is a book of free verse poems by Naomi Shihab Nye. The first poem was written on September 11, 2001, so, in a way, the book is a response to the anti-Muslim, anti-Arab sentiment that saturated the media in the aftermath of September 11th.

More generally, the poems attempt to capture the Arab-American perspective on life in the United States (Texas, specifically). The poems tend to be very personal.

The poems contain some images that help readers connect wi
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
Stephanie Jobe
I’m not usually a big poetry person. Maybe it’s because I still think of the awkward poems we are forced to write as children when we do not yet know the words for what we feel. Maybe it’s just that there is too much poetry out there that isn’t really that good. My personal opinion is that this is really good. I’ll admit when picking a book of “poems of the Middle East” published post 9-11 I was a bit wary that it would be too defensive. I think the Middle East as portrayed by Nye is exactly wha ...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
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
Jan 26, 2008 Michelle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Michelle by: I liked the cover, and small books, so it jumped off the shelve
Besides being a book of poetry about conflict & human experience of war; this book is about everyday life in families. I like it in particular because several of the poems remind me to slow down and live in the moment of those everyday life events. I also like it because the everyday life events described are from a culture not mine & i get to peek in on the scenery, food, & details of what goes on.

Here's a short one:
A Single Slice Reveals Them

An Apple on the table
hides its seeds
Gazelle, you are gorgeous. Gazelle, you are graceful. These gazelles are the varieties of love, life, and death valley. Naomi Shihab Nye's poems of the Middle East bear the beauty and burden of desert and diaspora, of language and living, and of wide-eyed witness to war of the worlds.
My favorite from this book:

Red Brocade

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.
Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend
19 Varieties of Gazelle is written by Naimi Shibab Nye has collected poems from the Middle East. The poems dated back to September 11, 2001. Middle Easterns write their reactions to the towers falling, where they were and and how Middles Easterns were treated during the aftermath. I had very little knowledge about the Arab culture until 9/11. The author tells stories of her grandmother, others and her her own describing life as an Arab. I learned a lot about the Arab culture reading these beauti ...more
Naomi Shihab Nye's father is from Palestine. In 19 varieties of Gazelle, she writes of the life she knows both as an adult and as a child who visits the homeland of her father and her grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins. She writes about the pain they feel being exiled from it, and what they experience living under conditions of Israeli occupation. She writes of the wishes and prayers for peace, and of the immigrant's gaze towards home. And she writes beautifully, touchingly, satisfyingly. This ...more
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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
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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.” 6 likes
More quotes…