Naomi Shihab Nye Named Young People's Poet Laureate

The Palestinian-American writer becomes the first Arab-American to earn the honor.

The Poetry Foundation has named Naomi Shihab Nye the Young People's Poet Laureate for 2019 to 2021.  It is yet another distinction for the acclaimed author, who becomes the first Arab-American to earn this honor.

Naomi Shihab Nye
Photo credit: Michael Nye

Nye's father was a Palestinian refugee, and her mother was an American. She was born in St. Louis, MO, and grew up in Missouri before moving to Jerusalem for a short time as a teen, then relocating to San Antonio, TX, the place she still calls home decades later. Among her many titles over the years, Nye is the author of Habibi: A Novel, the picture book Sitti's Secrets, and 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, a National Book Award finalist.

The Young People’s Poet Laureate aims to "raise awareness that young people have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them." Past recipients include Jacqueline Woodson and Margarita Engle.



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Grace Cavalieri

This is the best news possible. She has touched everyone whoever read her or met her.She writes, she heals, she loves. We need to save our children who are so vulnerble. This is a beautiful way to do that.

Posted : May 12, 2019 09:18

Susan McGilvray

What a lovely choice! I've been a fan for years. The Turtle of Oman is one of my all time favorites.

Posted : May 10, 2019 04:00

Emily Schneider

I have great respect for Naomi Shihab Nye, both for her own poetry and for her tireless efforts on behalf of promoting poetry to young people. I would like to ask why she is identified as the first Arab-American honoree. When Margarita Engle was named, she was described as Cuban-American. Her heritage through her father is Jewish. Your description of Nye's father as a "refugee" is also not without controversy, lacking any context. In fact, many American writers are the sons and daughters, or descendents, or refugees, but are not so described by SLJ.

Posted : May 10, 2019 02:52



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