October 26, 2012

Naomi Shihab Nye: Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference

Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye is a Palestinian-American poet living in San Antonio, TX. The author or editor of more than 30 works of poetry, fiction and essays, Nye is known for elevating the "ordinary" with her keen observations of daily life, including life in Latino and Arab communities.

Her books include: Words Under the Words, Red Suitcase, Fuel, You and Yours, Never in a Hurry, Habibi, A-maze Me, Honeybee and 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, which was nominated for the National Book Award.

Nye, whose father was a journalist, gleans many of the subjects for her poems from the news, including writing about both the tensions and close relationships between Palestinians and Israelis. The promotion of cross-cultural understanding and peace is an important component of her work, as is teaching poetry to children, publishing their poems and writing children's books.

Marcia Franklin talks with Nye about her beginnings as a poet, the influences on her work, her tips for writing, the role of poetry in society and her thoughts on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Nye has received many accolades for her work, including the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book award and four Pushcart Prizes. In 2010, members of the Academy of American Poets elected her a chancellor of that organization for a six-year term.

The interview is part of Dialogue's ongoing "Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers' Conference" and was taped at the 2012 conference. Since 1995, the conference has been bringing together authors to discuss literature and life. Marcia Franklin has interviewed speakers there since 2005. This year's, and previous years', conversations can be found at the Dialogue Sun Valley Writers site.