Internationally beloved poet Naomi Shihab Nye’s latest collection, The Tiny Journalist, is a collection inspired by seven-year-old Janna Tamimi, the “Youngest Journalist in Palestine,” who captured videos of anti-occupation protests with her mother’s smartphone.
Nye—who last appeared in SAL’s 2008/09 Poetry Series—was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to a Palestinian refugee father and a mother of northern European descent. She spent her teenage years in Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas. Her multifaceted definition of home shines through her writing, which often focuses on honoring heritage and finding new spaces to grow. Her time spent traveling through Europe, Asia, and the Americas brings the rich perspective of someone who has learned, experienced, and understood different cultures into each of her creative endeavors—someone, in short, who is in love with the world.
Nye published her first work at the age of seven and hasn’t put her pen down since. She has written more than ten poetry collections, three novels, and has appeared in numerous anthologies. Her full-length collections of poetry include Different Ways to Pray (1980), Hugging the Jukebox (1982), Yellow Glove (1986), Fuel (1998), 19 Varieties of the Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (2002), You and Yours (2005), Transfer (2011), and Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners (2018).
Nye now makes her permanent home in San Antonio, Texas, where she has long been growing roots. She graduated with a B.A. in English from Trinity University in San Antonio and has worked as the poetry editor of the Texas Observer for the past 20 years. Along with intermitted teaching at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, she is also a professor of creative writing at Texas State University.
Nye is the recipient of four Pushcart prizes, the Voertman Poetry Prize, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Isabel Gardner Poetry Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature, and the Robert Creeley Award.
Her young adult novel, The Turtle of Oman, was named a Best Book of 2014 by The Horn Book and a 2015 Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association. Honeybee, her collection of poems for young adults, won the 2008 Arab American Book Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category.
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, our Q&A moderator for Nye’s event, is a poet, essayist, and translator. Her first book, Water & Salt (Red Hen Press), won the 2018 Washington State Book Award for Poetry. Her first chapbook, Arab in Newsland, won the 2016 Two Sylvias Press Prize. Her forthcoming chapbook, Letters from the Interior, will be published this fall. In 2017-18, she served as inaugural Poet-in-Residence at Open Books: A Poem Emporium in Seattle.