Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye is a Texas-based poet and short story writer.
You and Yours; 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East; Fuel; Red Suitcase; Hugging the Jukebox
Isabella Gardner Poetry Award (You and Yours), Carity Randall Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, 1988 winner of the Academy of American Poets' Lavan Award, 2010 Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets
Which one or two American books or plays would you yourself recommend to the foreign leaders?
I would recommend Every War Has Two Losers by William Stafford, edited by Kim Stafford, and anything by W.S. Merwin.
Who in your childhood—for example, parent or teacher—encouraged you to read books, and which one or two books do you remember most fondly?
My second-grade teacher, Harriett Barron Lane, of Central School, St. Louis, was a passionate advocate of poetry-reading for her seven-year-old students. She believed we gained vocabulary, insight, confidence, wisdom and a sense of context from reading a vast array of poems. Two books I fell in love with in her class were Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson and Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake. Nothing was above our heads in second grade.
Which books by writers of the other G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom) have been most important to you as a writer?
I have been deeply moved and changed by Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Barry Dempster and Carol Shields of Canada; Robin Robertson and Carol Ann Duffy of Scotland; Shuntarō Tanikawa of Japan; so many countless voices of England I can't even begin to name them, but definitely including Jacqueline Saphra; Rafik Schami, the Syrian writer who lives and writes out of Germany; and Bertolt Brecht for decades—and so many more.