By Naomi Shihab Nye
Dear Jen, these 3 little poems all remind me of you in different ways because
you really make the most of your days!!!! Love, your fan club prez. Naomi (arm-wrestling with 1,000 others who say they are also the Prez. Imposters, all!) xo Naomi Shihab Nye
From A MAZE ME (Poems for girls)
Freshly out in paperback 2014, first published 2005 (Greenwillow Books)
note from Jen: Naomi is one of my favorite people on the planet as well as one of the greatest living poets of our time!
My hundred-year-old next-door neighbor told me:
Every day is a good day if you have it.
I had to think about that a minute.
She said, Every day is a present
someone left at your birthday place at the table.
Trust me! It may not feel like that
but it’s true. When you’re my age
you’ll know. Twelve is a treasure.
And it’s up to you
to unwrap the package gently,
lift out the gleaming hours
wrapped in tissue,
don’t miss the bottom of the box.
A girl wrote a letter on an orange
and placed it on a doorstep.
That day the sky tasted fresh as mint.
IF THE SHOE DOESN’T FIT
you take it off
of course you take it off
it doesn’t worry you
it isn’t your shoe
Naomi is a poet, songwriter, and novelist. She was born to a Palestinian father and American mother. Although she regards herself as a “wandering poet”, she refers to San Antonio as her home.
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, A Maze Me, Red Suitcase, Field Trip and Fuel; a collection of essays entitled Never in a Hurry; a young-adult novel called Habibi (the semi-autobiographical story of an Arab-American teenager who moves to Jerusalem in the 1990s) 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 69 different countries. Her most recent anthology is called Is This Forever, Or What?: Poems & Paintings from Texas.
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, and a 2000 Witter Bynner Fellowship. In June 2009, Nye was named as one of PeaceByPeace.com’s first peace heroes.