It must have been precious...the look on my face when I realized publishers were giving away ARCs of books at a recent conference.
I quickly became a happy pack-horse.
On the last day of the conference, I told myself, not one more book, when I found myself browsing in the manner of a dieter that's going to start on Monday. The sweet sales rep asked what I was looking for.
"Hold on a sec, I've got just the thing," popping around the corner returning with Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners by Naomi Shihab Nye.
You could have knocked me over with a feather--not kidding. I had tears in my eyes. I might have scared the poor woman.
I tried reading Voices in the Air several times. But, the hubbub of holidays and raising teens left me too keyed-up to settle into it.
And then, snow days.....ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. God does love a Teacher Librarian, doesn't She?
Here's the thing. I don't feel at all qualified to actually review Nye's work. I mean, it's Naomi Shihab Nye (I'm screaming like a Beetles fan in 1967 here).
But I can give you some impressions that I hope will urge you to get a copy of these poems and make them part of your heart.
First, as I read the poems I was struck by the sense of place--in every poem, Nye grounds this work in place. From a seat at a poetry conference to an airplane to a beach to imagined places of the mind, a reader is taken to a place. I was so fascinated, I created a word cloud of all the locations I found as I read.
And there were moments when I knew this poet was speaking to me. I'm not sure by what magic....but she does.
A Lonely Cup of Coffee
by Naomi Shihab Nye
to a sociable cup
which tastes more
the lonely cup
the quiet mouth
Nye pens journeys far, far from blessed moments alone with a cup of coffee. We join Syrian refugees and Palestinians and North American First Peoples.
"Bombs have no mothers," in Invitation to the NSA (111)
She shares what poets know well, "saying your words, between daylight and the dark, swinging them like small lanterns..." Longfellow's Bed (85).
Nye knew, For Caroline M. (71) would bring me the release of tears I needed as my friend, Amy, lay dying surrounded by her loved ones....literally while I read the poem enabling the goodbye that had felt wrong to say.
Nye's wisdom reminds, "Some people are born to be present, hold the note." Showing Up (69).
As a poet, I am supremely unqualified to review the nuts and bolts Nye's work....but as a human and a reader...I'm telling you, this book is for me, for my students and for you. Even if you don't know that you need it, you do.
Please go directly to our beautiful friend, Jan's blog at Bookseedstudio. She is hosting this week with treasured topics.