Naomi Shihab Nye (1952 – ), born in St. Louis, Missouri. Daughter of a father who came to America as a Palestinian refugee, and a born-in-America mother. “I grew up in St. Louis in a tiny house full of large music – Mahalia Jackson and Marian Anderson singing majestically on the stereo, my German-American mother fingering ‘The Lost Chord’ on the piano as golden light sank through trees, my Palestinian father trilling in Arabic in the shower each dawn.” During her teens, Shihab Nye has lived in Ramallah in Palestine, the Old City in Jerusalem, and now lives in San Antonio, Texas, where she earned her BA in English and world religions from Trinity University.
To read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Burning the Old Year” click:
Burning the Old Year
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.
Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.
“Burning the Old Year” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems – © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye