Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cybils Congratulations - Naomi Shihab Nye

Congratulations to Naomi Shihab Nye, who was awarded the 2008 Cybil Award for Poetry, for her book HONEYBEE. [That link will take you to Powell's Books, an old Portland independent - I'm only linking to independent bookstores now, not Amazon.] HONEYBEE is a superb collection, and Ms. Nye's work (for both adults and children) has always impressed me. It was an honor to have IMAGINARY MENAGERIE on the Cybil shortlist with her. Here's a poem I particularly like (not from HONEYBEE, but from THE WORDS UNDER THE WORDS: COLLECTED POEMS):


Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.

Skin had hope, that's what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers—silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.

----Naomi Shihab Nye


For a wonderful interview, during which Ms. Nye articulates many things I believe are fundamentally, deeply true about poetry, go here.


  1. Oh, Naomi. I love this line from The Words Under the Words: "My grandmother's days are made of bread." The whole poem is beautiful and this line especially sings.

  2. Beautiful. When I get home, I'm pulling out one of her collections. Thank you.