Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye is a Texas-based poet and short story writer.

Selected Works:

You and Yours19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East; FuelRed 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

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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.

What is the Power of the Word Exhibit?

Power of the Word: Leaders, Readers and Writers is the first online exhibition of The American Writers Museum. As world leaders gather in the U.S. this spring, The American Writers Museum Foundation is inviting American writers and readers to explore the power of the word and join in a discussion of how American books can help readers in other parts of the world better understand our culture.

Leaders Gallery

An exploration into what some of the world’s most powerful leaders like to read, and how reading has influenced them.

Writers Gallery

American writers comment on their early experiences with reading and name the books they think world leaders should read in order to better understand American culture.

Readers Gallery

An interactive, open forum where readers are invited to join the discussion by answering the question: Which American works of literature do you think leaders from other nations should read in order to gain a better understanding of America?

We would like to thank our exhibit sponsors for their generous support:


What is The American Writers Museum?

The mission of The American Writers Museum Foundation is to establish the first national museum in the United States dedicated to engaging the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture and our daily lives. Learn more at