Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Blog

By Jade Zoghbi

Spring 2013 Intern

Arab American voices in the public realm foster understanding between multiple ethnic groups which assists in dispelling misconceptions of the “other”. Artist Naomi Shihab Nye makes sense of the world within and the communities in which she is immersed through the art of poetry, by the act of humanizing, remembering, challenging and nourishing the individual voice. The talented poet, educator, and woman is the daughter of a Palestinian immigrant father and an American mother, born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri. A self-described “wandering poet” she has lived in Jerusalem, St. Louis, and currently resides with her family in San Antonio, Texas. In her present neighborhood, she celebrates the sense of difference embraced by the ethnic Latino community, and in a way, this brings her closer to her roots. She says that living in a community which is proud of differences in ethnic backgrounds assists her Arab American identity. An astute traveler, she has journeyed for 37 years between communities where she also held workshops for youths. Over the years, she has composed a selection of poetry which offers an insight into her life as a Palestinian-American, her experiences of the Middle East, and the daily experiences through which she traverses as a multicultural citizen.

But more than sharing her view of the world, she is also a representative to the Arab American community and a political voice of understanding for the immigrant, Arab, and American communities. Following the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, Nye wrote a letter to represent the voices of the Arab Americans who now struggled more than ever against prejudices and malicious stereotypes. She has also inspired young students to find their own voice in poetry and held various workshops. It is critical to give space for expression to individuals from a young age on to support development.

Now, Nye will commence the spring season of the American Book Review's reading series of 2013. Join her for a reading from her poetry and short story collection. The event takes place at noon on Thursday at the Alcorn Auditorium, University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. It is free to the public.  


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