by Naomi Shihab Nye
We are looking for your laugh. Trying to find the path back to it between drooping trees. Listening for your rustle under bamboo, brush of fig leaves, feeling your step on the porch, natty lantana blossom poked into your buttonhole. We see your raised face at both sides of a day. How was it, you lived around the edge of everything we did, seasons of ailing & growing, mountains of laundry & mail? I am looking for you first & last in the dark places, when I turn my face away from headlines at dawn, dropping the rolled news to the floor. Your rumble of calm poured into me. There was the saving grace of care, from day one, the watching and being watched from every corner of the yard.
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Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri, to a Palestinian father and an American mother. During her high school years, she lived in Ramallah in Palestine, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her B.A. in English and world religions from Trinity University.
Nye is the author of numerous books of poems, including You and Yours (BOA Editions, 2005), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, as well as 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (2002), a collection of new and selected poems about the Middle East, Fuel (1998), Red Suitcase (1994), and Hugging the Jukebox (1982).
Nye gives voice to her experience as an Arab-American through poems about heritage and peace that overflow with a humanitarian spirit. About her work, the poet William Stafford has said, "her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life."
Nye has received awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Carity Randall Prize, the International Poetry Forum, as well as four Pushcart Prizes. She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow. In 1988 she received The Academy of American Poets' Lavan Award, selected by W. S. Merwin.
Her poems and short stories have appeared in various journals and reviews throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle and Far East. She has traveled to the Middle East and Asia for the United States Information Agency three times, promoting international goodwill through the arts.
She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2010.