American Poet, Songwriter and Novelist
Naomi Shihab Nye
American Poet, Songwriter and Novelist
Answer, if you hear the words under the words- otherwise it is just a world with a lot of rough edges, difficult to get through, and our pockets full of stones.
But pain and anguish were everywhere anyway. Might as well put them to good use.
I keep thinking, we teach children to use language to solve their disputes. We teach them not to hit and fight and bite. Then look what adults do!
I?m the sea, I?m not afraid of the storm. The sea?s dream is always turbulence. If I don?t have waves and storms, I won?t be the sea anymore. I?ll be the pond? and stinking.
Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us we find poems.
Poetry [is] more necessary than ever as a fire to light our tongues.
The person you have known a long time is embedded in you like a jewel. The person you have just met casts out a few glistening beams & you are fascinated to see more of them. How many more are there? With someone you've barely met the curiosity is intoxicating.
We walked where the ancient pier juts into the sea. Stood on the rim of the pool, by the circle of black boulders. No one saw we were there and everyone who had ever been there stood silently in air. Where else do we ever have to go, and why?
Anyone who says, ?Here?s my address, write me a poem,? deserves something in reply. So I?ll tell you a secret instead: poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes, they are sleeping. They are the shadows drifting across our ceilings the moment before we wake up. What we have to do is live in a way that lets us find them.
But we love you, my parents said. We love you very much. I know, but they loved me as a girl. The boy within me was stuck with me. Not till much later did I find out that the boy within was really a girl.
I knew what slant of light would make you turn over. It was then I felt the highways slide out of my hands. I remembered the old men in the west side cafe, dealing dominoes like magical charms.
If a teacher told me to revise, I thought that meant my writing was a broken-down car that needed to go to the repair shop. I felt insulted. I didn't realize the teacher was saying, 'Make it shine. It's worth it.' Now I see revision as a beautiful word of hope. It's a new vision of something. It means you don't have to be perfect the first time. What a relief!
Maybe we should just wander around other countries carrying books.
Poetry calls us to pause. There is so much we overlook, while the abundance around us continues to shimmer, on its own.
The real heroes of race and culture would always be the people who stepped out of their own line to make a larger circle.
What did exclusivity ever have to offer but a distorted, unrealistic view of the world? People who stuck only to their own kind were scared people.
Apparently people commonly died when their loved ones were out of the room. Bathroom break. Quick trip down to the cafeteria for a grilled cheese. It was easier to die if you didn't have family members to worry about at that exact moment.
During the Gulf War, I remember two little third grade girls saying to me - after I read them some poems by writers in Iraq - 'You know, we never thought about there being children in Iraq before.' And I thought, 'Well those poems did their job, because now they'll think about everything a little bit differently.'
I love the solitude of reading. I love the deep dive into someone else's story, the delicious ache of a last page.
If someday, in a morning, you see you, in a mirror or the dent of a spoon, and wonder Where is my soul and Where has it gone, remember this: Catch the gaze of a woman on the metro, subway, tram. Look at a man. Seek and you will find you in the silvered space, a flash between souls.
Maybe we try too hard to be remembered, waking to the glowing yellow disc in ignorance, swearing that today will be the day, today we will make something of our lives. What if we are so busy searching for worth that we miss the sapphire sky and cackling blackbird. What else is missing? Maybe our steps are too straight and our paths too narrow and not overlapping. Maybe when they overlap someone in another country lights a candle, a couple resolves their argument, a young man puts down his silver gun and walks away.
Poetry helps us imagine one another's lives. It gives us intimate insights into someone else's experience. To be able to have that kind of insight in thirty seconds or three minutes is a very precious kind of transmission. It's not cluttered with a lot of extraneous, explanatory matter or the kind of chatter that comes so easily on the news these days. We're surrounded by talk and language and reporting and stories of a certain kind, the ?breaking news? kind, but I think we hunger for another kind of story, the story that helps us just feel connected with one another, be with one another. A slower kind of empathy. I think we hunger for that now more than ever.
The Rider: A boy told me if he roller-skated fast enough his loneliness couldn't catch up to him, the best reason I ever heard for trying to be a champion. What I wonder tonight pedaling hard down King William Street is if it translates to bicycles. A victory! To leave your loneliness panting behind you on some street corner while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas, pink petals that have never felt loneliness, no matter how slowly they fell.
What twists or rage greater than we could ever guess had savaged skylines, thousands of lives?
Are people the only holy land?