Naomi Shihab Nye is a wandering poet. For nearly 40 years she has travelled America and the world to read and teach. Born in Missouri to a Palestinian father and an American mother, she grew up in St Louis, Jerusalem and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian- American background, the cultural diversity of Texas, and her experiences in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America and the Middle East, her poetry ‘reflects this textured heritage, which endowed her with an openness to the experiences of others and a sense of continuity across borders’ (Bill Moyers).
Through her empathetic use of poetic language, she reveals the shining nature of our daily lives, whether writing about local life in her inner-city Texan neighbourhood or the daily rituals of Jews and Palestinians in the war-torn Middle East. Probing the fragile connection between language and meaning, she shows how lives are marked by tragedy, inequity and misunderstanding, and that our best chance of surviving losses and shortcomings is to be acutely aware of the sacred in all things.
First published by Bloodaxe in 2008, Tender Spot has been expanded to include later work, including a selection from Naomi Shihab Nye’s 2011 collection Transfer as well as newer poems. She launched the new edition of Tender Spot at Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway, Ireland, in April 2015.
‘Beamed from her home in South Texas, multi award-winning American poet Naomi Shihab Nye was a wise, perceptive voice, whether in her wry observations of life under lockdown or her quiet engagement with activism on behalf of her father’s country, Palestine. Engaging in serious topics with a light touch, she reminded us how poetry can quietly make things better, as it has for many people in the past year.’ – Susan Mansfield, The Scotsman, on her highlights of the StAnza International Poetry Festival 2021
‘Her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.’ – William Stafford
’Tender yet forceful, funny and commonsensical, reflective and empathic.’ – Donna Seaman, Booklist
Naomi Shihab Nye reads from Tender Spot
Naomi Shihab Nye reads a selection of poems from the new expanded edition of Tender Spot during her visit to Galway for Cúirt International Festival of Literature in April 2015. The poems included in this selection are: ‘One Way or Another’; ‘Only Pine Nuts Can Stop a War’; ‘The Art of Disappearing’; ‘During a War’; ‘The Only Democracy in the Middle East’; ‘Dallas; Burlington, Vermont’; ‘Kindness’; ‘Hello Palestine’; and ‘For Aziz, Who Loved Jerusalem’.