Friday, June 22, 2007

Poetry Friday--Naomi Shihab Nye

I have been working on a collection of poems about growing up between cultures. Having grown up in Thailand, but being fully American, I have always felt like a part of me belonged in more than one country. Much of what I have written about my experiences have been vignettes of things that have happened. I began writing them one of the vignettes down as a poem one day, and it occured to me--this is the form that these stories should take. So, I've been working on that everyday.

I've written some poetry, but mostly prose, so I knew I needed to spend some more time really reading and studying other poets if I was going to do a decent job at writing poetry. I am working my way through a number of poets that my friends at Hollins recommended. Right now I'm reading Naomi Shihab Nye's 19 Varieties of Gazelle. These are poems about the Middle East.

I have never been to the Middle East, but Nye's poems really give details and pictures so that you feel like you are experiencing the same things she has experienced. She is a poet with an artist's eye for details.

Here is an excerpt from her poem "Lunch in Nablus City Park"
When you lunch in a town
which has recently known war
under a calm slate sky mirroring none of it,
certain words feel impossible in the mouth.
Casualty: too casual, it must be changed.
A short man stacks mounds of pita bread
on each end of the table, muttering about more to come.

Many of her poems are several pages long and each tells a story on its own. She tells of her life and her family here, but also paints pictures of life in the Middle East. I can't wait to read more of her poems. I have always known that poets point out the details that often others might miss, but after reading Naomi Shihab Nye's poems, I realized that she really brings out so many of those details. It's time for me to mine some more details out of my heart and get writing.

Poetry Friday roundup is over at A Wrung Sponge

1 comment:

cloudscome said...

I really like Naomi Shihab Nye. You are right she has a poet's ear and an artist's eye. I like this book a lot.