Acclaimed and award-winning poet, teacher, and National Book Award finalist Naomi Shihab Nye’s uncommon and unforgettable voice offers readers peace, humor, inspiration, and solace. This volume of almost one hundred original poems is a stunning and engaging tribute to the diverse voices past and present that comfort us, compel us, lead us, and give us hope.
Voices in the Air is a collection of almost one hundred original poems written by the award-winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye in honor of the artists, writers, poets, historical figures, ordinary people, and diverse luminaries from past and present who have inspired her. Full of words of encouragement, solace, and hope, this collection offers a message of peace and empathy.
Voices in the Air celebrates the inspirational people who strengthen and motivate us to create, to open our hearts, and to live rewarding and graceful lives. With short informational bios about the influential figures behind each poem, and a transcendent introduction by the poet, this is a collection to cherish, read again and again, and share with others. Includes an index.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: None
Booklist (December 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 8))
Grades 9-12. “All the voices ever cast out into the air are still floating around,” award-winning poet Nye (The Turtle of Oman, 2014) suggests. In this contemplative collection of more than 100 free verse poems, Nye summons them, channeling writers, educators, music icons, and more, from Lucille Clifton and Bruce Springsteen to Hawaiian hairdresser Mary Endo. Over the course of three sections, Nye delivers graceful dedications and intimate recollections, playful musings and sharp rebukes. In the John O’Donohue–inspired “Bowing Candles,” Nye celebrates the late Irish poet: “all poems belong to anyone who loves them.” In “Oh, Say Can You See,” Nye envisions Donald Trump in Palestine: “I’d wrap a keffiyeh around his head, / tuck some warm falafels into his pockets,” she writes. And in “A Lonely Cup of Coffee,” Nye admires the “redolent / rich / ripe / round” of a beverage enjoyed in solitude. These are “poems for listeners,” as the subtitle asserts, and there’s no doubt that Nye’s nimble, clear-eyed, and quietly political poems—supplemented by meticulous biographical notes—may make an avid listener out of anyone.
Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2017)
A rich collection of poems celebrating diverse lives.Poet and National Book Award finalist Nye (19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, 2005, etc.) here showcases a variety of largely contemporary vantage points. In the prose introduction to this collection of over 90 free-verse poems, Nye invites teen readers to take a break from the lure of digital devices, asking, “With so much vying for our attention, how do we listen better?” and gently reminding all that “quiet inspiration may be as necessary as food, water, and shelter.” Inspiration for Nye here often comes from the crossing of cultures and results from the consummate attention she pays to the slightest of natural phenomena (“never say no to peonies”) alongside such grave societal ills as the displacement or disenfranchisement of whole peoples, whether happening in Gaza, Baghdad, or Ferguson. Using thoughts from a number of famous literary and historical figures as springboards, Nye presents political issues with ease, seeking always to “translate us / all into a better world,” as when she movingly describes the plight of the refugee in “Arabs in Finland”: “What they left to be here, / in the cold country, / where winter lasts forever, / haunts them in the dark.” Asking tough questions and demonstrating the beauty of the voices on the fringe, Nye once again deftly charts the world through verse: not to be missed. (biographical notes) (Poetry. 13-17)
About the Author
Naomi Shihab Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother. During her high school years, she lived in Ramallah in Jordan, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her B.A. in English and world religions from Trinity University. She is a novelist, poet and songwriter.
She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2010.
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