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Award-winning Palestinian-American Poet, Writer, Anthologist, and Educator.
Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet.” She has spent more than 40 years traveling the country and the world to lead writing workshops and inspiring students of all ages. Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother and grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas and her experiences traveling in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico and the Middle East, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity.
Known for poetry that lends a fresh perspective to ordinary events, people and objects, Nye has said that, for her, “the primary source of poetry has always been local life, random characters met on the streets, our own ancestry sifting down to us through small essential daily tasks.” She is also considered one of the leading female poets of the American Southwest. A contributor to “Contemporary Poets” wrote that Nye “brings attention to the female as a humorous, wry creature with brisk, hard intelligence and a sense of personal freedom unheard of” in the history of pioneer women.
“Naomi Shihab Nye breathes poetry like the rest of us breathe air. When she exhales, the world becomes different. Better.” —"The Grand Rapids Press”
Nye is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for her work, including the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement from the National Book Critics Circle, the Lavan Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Carity Randall Prize, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry award, the Robert Creeley Prize and many Pushcart Prizes.
She has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and she was a Witter Bynner Fellow. From 2010 to 2015, she served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In 2018 she was awarded the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Texas Institute of Letters. Nye is the Poetry Foundation's Young People's Poet Laureate.
Nye continues to live and work in San Antonio, Texas where she is professor of creative writing at Texas State University.
This will be Rand Brandes’s last VWS event after 34 years of world-class literary arts programming.
Photo credit: Ha Lam