A couple of years back I met the poet Naomi Shihiab Nye at a reading she did here in Kansas City. She is a remarkable woman, even beyond her writing which has such a strong original voice.
Nye is a non-conformist, but you don't realize that so much at first glance. She embraces her Arab heritage in a firm but soft spoken way that makes her ideal for knocking down barriers that exist in America today.
In both her writing and public appearances she seems to me to be the "why not" woman.
Why not just learn something about each other? Why not just listen to what each other as opposed to trying to change everyone to be like yourself?
The daughter of a Palestinian father and an America mother, Nye's background allows her to open doors to communication that others may find difficult. But is seems to be as much about where her heart is, as the place of her heritage. And for poets, place is so important to their work.
The Sept/Oct edition of Poets & Writers magazine contains of her poems from a new book, You & Yours. The Poem, For Mohammed Zeid of Gaza, Age 15 questions the soft metaphorical use of words in relationship to violence. There is no stray bullet, sirs / No bullet like a worried cat / crouching under a bush / - A poem that is timely and poignant. This bullet had no secret happy hopes, / it was not singing to itself with eyes closed / under the bridge.
This is someone I'd love to a day just talking to about writing, about stories, and how she stays so positive about the future.