poet Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye

#124 on top 500 poets

Biography of Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye poet

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.

Personal Life

Nye graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and still resides in that city. She and her photographer husband, Michael Nye, have one son, Madison.

Nye's father, Aziz Shihab, wrote books such as A Taste of Palestine: Menus and Memories.

Early Life

At the age of six, Nye began writing poems as soon as she learned how to write. She was influenced by her mother who read to her all the time. At first her early works were based on childish things such as cats, squirrels, friends, teachers, etc. It wasn't until she was fourteen that she visited her Palestinian grandmother; this would eventually become part of the messages in her many collections of poetry. Her book "Fuel" is an example. Some of her earlier works were published in Seventeen, Modern Poetry Studies, and Ironwood.

Naomi Shihab Nye's Works:


Different Ways to Pray: Poems. Breitenbush Publications. 1980.
Hugging the Jukebox. Dutton. 1982.
Yellow Glove. Breitenbush Books. 1986.
Red Suitcase: Poems. Consortium Book Sales & Dist. 1994.
Fuel: poems. BOA Editions, Ltd.. 1998.
19 varieties of gazelle: poems of the Middle East. HarperCollins. 2002.
You & yours: poems. BOA Editions, Ltd.. 2005.


Habibi. Simon and Schuster. 1999.


Naomi Shihab Nye, ed (1996). This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World. Aladdin Paperbacks.
Naomi Shihab Nye, Ashley Bryan, ed (2000). Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets. HarperCollins.

Critical Studies

Gómez-Vega, Ibis. "The Art of Telling Stories in the Poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye." MELUS 6.4 (Winter 2001): 245-252.
Gómez-Vega, Ibis. "Extreme Realities: Naomi Shihab Nye's Essays and Poems." Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 30 (2010): 109-133.
Mercer, Lorraine, and Linda Strom. "Counter Narratives: Cooking Up Stories of Love and Loss in Naomi Shihab Nye's Poetry and Diana Abu-Jaber's Crescent." MELUS 32.4 (Winter 2007): 33-46.
Orfalea, Gregory. "Doomed by Our Blood to care: The Poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye." Paintbrush 18.35 (Spring 1991): 56-66.


Clack, Cary, (2009). Clowns and Rats Scare Me. Trinity University Press.

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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