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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  339 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Poems that find meaning in a world where we are "so tired of meaning nothing."
Paperback, 65 pages
Published June 1st 1998 by BOA Editions Ltd.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 751)
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As always at least one poem stood out; this time two were truly spectacular.


She is holding the book close to her body,
carrying it home on the cracked sidewalk,
down the tangled hill.
If a dog runs at her again, she will use the book as a shield.

She looked hard among the long lines
of books to find this one.
When they start talking about money,
when the day contains such long and hot places,
she will go inside.
An orange bed is waiting.
Story without corners.
If I can say this--Naomi Shihab Nye strikes me as a poet whose work will appeal most deeply to readers who appreciate the transformation of the specifics of a poem's world through its language--moreso than to those who have more of a taste for the transformation of a poem's language through its draw on the specifics of its world). These are poems best come to when in a state of mind requiring the sorting out of what is and isn't recognizable in the field of one's attention.
Feb 24, 2013 Amey rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry

One Boy Told me

Music lives inside my legs.
It's coming out when I talk.

I'm going to send my valentines
to people you don't even know.

Oatmeal cookies make my throat gallop.

Grown-ups keep their feet on the ground
when they swing. I hate that.

Look at those 2 o's with a smash in the middle -
that spells good-bye.

Don't ever say "purpose" again,
let's throw the word out.

Don't talk big to me.
I'm carrying my box of faces.
If I want to change faces I will.

Yesterday faded
I just went to the Sigma Tau Delta Literature Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, and she signed a copy of this book for me. Just because I thought it would be cool, I had her sign a specific poem for me, instead of just the title page. It was "The Eye Test," pretty cool poem too. I really admire Naomi Nye's work, I think she's written some really original and amazing works. When I heard her speak, she's a really warm, energetic person. When somebody asked her what she wants to be remembered for ...more
Oct 23, 2014 Ron rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
I read one of the author's poems as part of a collection and thought that I'd give this a try. Most of the poems were very good and some of them were excellent. I'll definitely look into reading more of her work.
Roger DeBlanck
Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry exudes great heart, compassion, and sensitivity. Her subject matter touches on personal experiences and also on her diverse background and heritage of Native American and Middle Eastern culture. She focuses her understandings together into a beauty that reflects the wide-range of emotions shared by people all over the world. Her observant and delicate eye brings calm to the emotions and topics she explores, often those pervaded with sadness, loss, and longing. She brace ...more
Bare, elegant, precise, with quiet intensity and abundant self-knowledge.
Erika Barrington
went in to look for tarot books... came out with this. glad to have one of her books though.
"A bean plant flourishes under the rain of sweet words"

The favorite poem in the book called "One Boy Told Me"
and all parts of it are favorite.
Here are some:

"And I will be deep water too."

"My tongue is the car wash
for the spoon"

"Just think - no one has ever seen
inside this peanut before!

It is hard being a person.

I do and don't love you -
Isn't that happiness?"

Who knows if these are really quotes from a
Eric Shaffer
This is my favorite by Naomi Shihab Nye. Great work.
Sherry Chandler
Dec 10, 2007 Sherry Chandler rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the whole world
Shelves: thepoets
Naomi Shihab Nye has such an expansive spirit and her poems, when she is at her best, take such dazzling turns that they make you want to tear open your little dried up walnut of a soul and embrace the world with love and forgiveness.

When she does not reach these heights -- and who could do that all the time, she is prolific -- her poems can seem a little diffuse and wandering.

Or maybe some days I'm too much of a Scrooge to be touched.

Always clear, inviting, inclusive.

She is a diamond in our nat
I took my time with this one so it'd last longer -- I've been looking forward to Nye's poetry for a while. Nye contemplates language, utilizing it as a subject matter to investigate the ways we might choose to navigate experiences, memories, and history. Her poems swing gently between light-heartedness and something sharper, resulting in a gorgeous and engaging collection.
Naomi Nye fan here - not disappointed. Especially liked the poem "Fundamentalism."
It's hard to rate a book of poetry. Either you feel it or you don't.

This book has several poems that I appreciate. Most were about interactions with people. Naomi Shihab Nye writes those pretty well. There is also some politically-inclined poetry here, too - that are much more ambiguous than what i'm used to - about Palestinians, Jordanians, other people under scrutiny right now by the US government.

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.

'Hidden' by Naomi Shihab
Sarah Wells
I love this poet's language, rhythm, and control. Every one I've read so far has brought a smile to my face or caught me slightly off in a "what a clever thought" moment. I especially enjoy her poems that include her son and capture the unbelievable innocence and creativity of youth. So unique.
What I particularly love about Naomi Shihab Nye is that she uses lots of specific numbers in her poetry. Not just the usual suspects, such as 10,000 and 2 and 7. But the numbers sitting around patiently waiting for their turns, like 47 and 11.
I had higher hopes. I've seen (video of) her read -- she's very impressive and firey. I like that. But her poems just don't move me without her there to read them aloud. Makes me wonder about my own poetry...
There isn't really a general focus of these poems, but it did seem like many of them were about Nye's son. As always, she has written some amazing poems.
Jul 03, 2008 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: writers, poets, & Texans
Recommended to Stephanie by: Abe Louise Young
Shelves: book-reviews
From an international being who lives nearby,
comes a world class poet.
Can't wait to meet her when Seton Cove brings her
to Austin this fall.

I love Nye's poetry. Words fail me, but she knows what to do with them. I recommend adding this AND Words Under Words to your personal collection.
My first favorite poet. And that was before I found out she came from just the same stuff as I am made of.
Quindell Johnson
Mrs. Nye is a masterful poet to whom everyone should introduce themselves.
Oct 24, 2010 Greta added it
Some collections are better read to oneself than out loud; true of this for me.
Andrea Beltran
Naomi Shihab Nye's poetry always has the answers I didn't know I was seeking.
Jan 27, 2012 Drew rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Another great collection of poems from my favorite poet.
Kathy marked it as to-read
Sep 02, 2015
Shelby marked it as to-read
Sep 02, 2015
Marie Conlin
Marie Conlin marked it as to-read
Aug 29, 2015
Linzmars marked it as to-read
Aug 26, 2015
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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...
Habibi Words Under the Words: Selected Poems 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East The Turtle of Oman Honeybee: Poems & Short Prose

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The Rider

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn't catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.”
Boy and Egg

Every few minutes, he wants
to march the trail of flattened rye grass
back to the house of muttering
hens. He too could make
a bed in hay. Yesterday the egg so fresh
it felt hot in his hand and he pressed it
to his ear while the other children
laughed and ran with a ball, leaving him,
so little yet, too forgetful in games,
ready to cry if the ball brushed him,
riveted to the secret of birds
caught up inside his fist,
not ready to give it over
to the refrigerator
or the rest of the day.”
More quotes…