Naomi Shihab Nye —
Your Life Is a Poem

Growing up, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye lived in Ferguson, Missouri and on the road between Ramallah and Jerusalem. Her father was a refugee Palestinian journalist, and through her poetry, she carries forward his hopeful passion, his insistence, that language must be a way out of cycles of animosity.

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is the author of 19 Varieties of Gazelle, You & Yours, Words Under Words, A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, and Transfer.

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Naomi Shihab Nye reads a poem during a 2010 visit to Gonzaga University.

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Thank you for the uplifting weekly broadcast of 'On Being'. It invariably provides thoughtful nourishment for the week and beyond. The kind of program that is worth sharing.

So many inspirational nuggets in this interview along with a kindness-in-action sensibility. I really enjoyed the way Naomi especially "rode the wave of bought" but Krista was no slouch either. I never thought to claim a Texan as my neighbor.

I recently moved from SF Bay Area to Texas and was surprised to hear that Naomi lived in Texas. A much needed inspirational episode. Thank you

Ms. Nye, your encouragement to see life as a poem resonated very deeply with me as a painter. I have often thought of my paintings as pictoral poems. They reflect my contemplation of the ordinary world around me. Two pears, one leaning on the other, are two lovers, one leaning tenderly on the shoulder of the other, the last light of the day on one cheek. The oysters and gin are a hint at the evening ahead. The tag line on my site, "See. Feel. Make," is the distillation of my artistic process and expresses the importance I place on observing and contemplating life. So, thank you for sharing your vision. I look forward to reading your poetry.

What an inspiring listen! So much here. Thoughts on refugees ,on hope, on poetry, none of it pretentious or overly academic. It's lovely to hear a conversation with such openness in it, and also I loved hearing about the balm that poetry can be, to read and to write.

AWESOME!!! :) Love the interview! :)

Thank you for your poem on kindness. Today it helped me communicate with my wonderful 13-year-old son. Peace, Richard

Teacher: knows about something more or differently than you do, and can communicate it to you.

The best of my travels have home-cooked meals.

I listen to On Being every Sunday morning on my way to work. It is the third day in a row of 12 hour nursing shifts and it is the highlight of my day. Often, nuggets of gold (god...typo) remain for more than a day. My only wish is that on Sundays my commute was longer than a half hour...but a half hour carries me for at least the day like the air around a pair of wings! I particularly enjoyed your episode with Naomi Shihab Nye. 3 lines in a notebook, everyday.

...such humanity, such concise language, such an appreciation for all of the universe, with hope,always hope

truly wonderful; the whole idea is wonderful. my poetry is simple, usually description of a natural environment where I live, even there I cannot escape the spiritual message for me and my readers. I love your work.

When you look at God ... and see yourself in His eyes ... then you see yourself as whole.

That's true - wonder at creation, and at man. The basic stance of the religious is wonder.

Love her voice, love her enthusiasm, love her thinking. Want her as a life coach :)
Krista, you provide food for my soul. Thank you for all that you do.

Thank you for this episode! I had heard of Naomi Shihab Nye in the past but never read her works. Now I am eager to read her poetry and essays, because her work and voice offers a "home" to be together, as she so eloquently put it.

Regrettably, I don't know Naomi Shihab Nye, but that is soon to change. Her poem "Kindness" has many surprise connections and associations and beautiful insights. As soon as I read it online, well,
I was startled and awake and had to immediately read it eight more times, it's so good. Many of us
have spoken with sorrow but may have forgotten that it is only "kindness that ties your shoes."

Thank you for this wonderful interview and the introduction to Naomi Shihab Nye, whom I hadn't known about prior. I wish she had a Facebook page, so I could like her page and her words would occasionally appear in my feed...

"Kindness" has been my favorite poem and a deep source of solace since my dear friend Senator Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash several years ago and a stranger sent the poem to me as their own gesture of kindness. I have read it hundreds of times, but hearing Naomi Shihab Nye read it and share the back story was absolutely wonderful. I loved the entire interview - its hopefulness, simplicity, honesty and wide lens on the world. In these bleak and hateful times, I have often thought poetry and kindness will save us.

Thank you for this conversation. I've been waking my daughters up with poetry. Writing three sentences every morning. And picking a word to row me to shore. All manageable tasks. All enriching my life, growing me. Thank you Krista and Naiomi.

Ms. Nye made a comment about using a word as an oar. As an English teacher and gumshoe poet, I frequently tout the potential of words to empower and inspire, but I had never thought of them as oars. The idea of using them as an engine for movement, a pure, self-powered engine, is one that I will share and carry with me for some time. Thank you for the connections and the current you generate with your paddles.

Thank you for sharing your poetry. The one entitled Kindness really spoke to me. I've always believed that being kind was the right thing to be if there ever was something you really can choose to be then I choose kind. I don't choose Rich and Famous and I don't chose black or white... Most of the time those things aren't really choices... Are they? I'm tired so I'm not as clear as I could be so I apologize. I just wanted to say Thank you for sharing. Your words truly helped me.

I have listened to Krista's interview with Naomi three times, and for me the unedited version is like having you both talking together in my living room. I teach life drawing at a community college, and find resonance in Naomi's story: the act of a writer pulling a notebook out of a back pocket to capture the fleeting words of a poem is so similar to a visual artist taking a sketchbook to capture the fleeting gesture of a human being. On Being is the best kind of soul food, and this episode especially inspires me. Thank you for the inspiration.