Thursday, May 30, 2019

Naomi Shihab Nye Told Me

Hello Friends, 

I'm so glad to see you here. I hope you got sun on your face this week and are headed into a wonderful weekend. 

recycled book page art (c) Linda Mitchell

This April, our friend Tabatha invited all of us to celebrate Naomi Shahib Nye and her poetry in this week's round-up hosted by Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. Soon after Ms. Nye was named Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation, appointed after Margarita Engle's 2017-2019 term.

Even before hearing the exciting Young People's Poet Laureate news, I was trying to think of an idea good enough for such a round-up. I wondered...what would Naomi Shahib Nye tell me in this situation of feeling overwhelmed--of wanting to write something worthy? 

I googled several interviews (links below) and found myself jotting down lines from Ms. Nye. Guess what? The lines I jotted down became a poem of what Naomi Shihab Nye told me about her and about her poems and about me and my poems. I'll bet you can find yourself in there too.

Naomi Told Me
found poem from interviews*

Begin with mixtures

In the meantime, notice
Write a letter to yourself
ask questions
you don’t have to answer.

Mind petite discoveries.

Hold differently--
a word as a single oar
see how it rubs against other words
it doesn’t cost anything.

Allow a practice
of writing--
thoughts as text
living a poem
another mystery
a pleasure.

Lines gathered by Linda Mitchell 

*Interviews from which lines are found


  1. Wow. I can't even begin to pick out favorite lines and phrases! Thank you for channeling Naomi (I feel like we're on a first name basis by now) into this beautiful poem!

  2. This is wonderful, Linda! What a clever idea! I especially like your first stanza and "mind petite discoveries." Thanks for mining these interviews and creating this poem to share with us!

  3. Her heart is in everything, isn't it, Linda? In my post I referred only to a little bit of an intro she wrote, and found I really wanted to share it all! This is a wonderful idea, and the poem shows her faith in words, too. I bet she would love to see it if you would like to send it to her! Thanks!

  4. So true - it doesn't cost anything! Thanks for this lovely post!

  5. Linda, this poem constructed from Naomi Shihab Nye's interview lines is a creative move on your part. I like stanza 4 - use a word as an oar (wonderful thought as we move to carefully navigate the creation of a poem). I like your recycled paper butterflies. Do you have a poem to accompany it for my creative challenge?

  6. What a treasure you found! It's lovely, Linda!

  7. Wow! I'm glad you listened so carefully and distilled Nye's wisdom for us in your found poem. It is just lovely and surprising and unexpected in the combinations. I love the part at using a word as an oar and asking questions you don't have to answer.

  8. I am keeping this, printing it out for my summer journal. The wisdom, the love, the caring of Naomi's words are all there. Thanks!

  9. I love every line of your found poem, Linda. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Love, love, love this. I did a found poem from words out of The Tiny Journalist by NSN.

  11. Just wow! Just when I think I like a particular line best, another one jumps out at me. It's all so good, but I keep going back to this one, Mind petite discoveries.

  12. How cool! I am interested in words as oars. They do propel us, don't they? Even a single one.

  13. I thought I recognized some of those lines! :) You don't have to go far to be inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye. Everything about her— her interviews, her book intros, her poems (of course). Just everything. Her entire life is a found poem. Thank you for sharing your beautiful poem in response.

  14. Perfect Linda, your poem fits so well from all of her writing!

  15. Love, love, love you found poem, Linda - the perfect way to honor this remarkable poet!

  16. My spark of shiver your NSN wand waves is - "Mind petite discoveries."

    Grateful that you read, listened & noted so much in interviews.
    Your "Naomi Told Me" is a treasure.

    And you've created a new prompt:
    read wide & deep among an exemplar's available materials & write "________ Told Me."
    I can't wait to share this one.

    Appreciations dear Linda.


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!