Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
When the name Naomi Shihab Nye comes up at one of the meetings of our local chapter of the Missouri Poetry Society, eyes around the room generally light up. In fact there is quite possibly no other living poet who invokes such universal positive response. Oh we all have our favorites and what I like, another may not be so fond of. I think most of us have at one time or another seen Ney in person and the gentle qualities of this woman are remarkably contagious.
Ney is a person who is not only at peace with herself, she is at peace with the world. She describes herself as a wandering poet and she has traveled extensively. She has ties to Missouri but most recently has been living in Texas where she works with children in elementary schools. Her heritage is a mixture American and Middle Eastern ancestry, which brings a unique perspective to her view of the world and her writing as well.
Regis Behe writing in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article relates how Nye sees her mission as allowing everyone to experience poetry and to counter the myth that it is elitist or the province of intellectuals. She wants others to awaken their own poetry and to remember language can be very sustaining even when you feel very alone.