Yesterday, Pat Mora shared her poem, “Spanish,” and tagged her friend, Naomi Shihab Nye. Naomi responds, “Wow! This is very cool and I love all the poems. Here is a poem for one of my poetry heroes, Mahmoud Darwish, and I believe it links to the other poems because there is also a sense of being an ‘outsider’ in some way, from the world around you, but finding a way to move and to survive, even elegantly, in that pain and separation. He wrote only in Arabic, though he was utterly fluent in English. He heard the music many of his countrymen and women stopped hearing -- after decades of frustration and humiliation. He deserves Leslea's bouquet too. And if sense is ever made of the horrible conflict in Palestine/Israel, if justice is ever embodied -- I think he'll be there in spirit to accept it.” Here is her moving tribute.
For Mahmoud Darwish, 1942-2008
By Naomi Shihab Nye
Mahmoud, so spare inside your elegant suit,
you moved across stony fields, bent to brush
the petals of a flower, didn't pick it.
Closed your eyes, though, holding one hand with the
other, carrying blossoms back to the page.
For those who would never walk a field or bend down,
you carried cries of a lost goat and
a people, without stumbling.
Streaks of tears mapping soft cheeks,
large and somber glasses,
the edgy poke of thin shoulders --
you stood a bit to the side, hand over heart,
lifting a glass, toasting the sadness
of wandering wind. We lived there, brother,
in your poems, with our heartbroken mothers
and fathers, our fists of sage.
No matter what walls or cells were constructed,
your brilliance slipped through the cage,
under the door, spilled forth
in every language, though Arabic owned you,
you grew into your own conflicted country
moving through the world,
its ruler, teacher and prophet,
its infinite dusty workers pausing with shovels
to stare beyond ruins they can see,
to what they will always believe in.
Five fun facts about Naomi Shihab Nye
*she published her first poems at the age of seven in a children’s magazine
*her background is Palestinian American
*she collects and anthologizes poetry from around the world
*she has been a Guggenheim Fellow
*she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2010
[Based on Poetry People; A Practical Guide to Children’s Poets]
Look for these selected poetry books compiled or written by Nye:
*This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World (Four Winds Press, 1992)
*The Tree is Older than You Are: A Bilingual Gathering of Poems and Stories from Mexico with Paintings by Mexican Artists (Simon & Schuster, 1995)
*The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems and Paintings From the Middle East (Simon & Schuster, 1998)
*What Have You Lost? (Greenwillow, 1999)
*Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets (Greenwillow, 2000)
*Is This Forever, or What? Poems and Paintings from Texas (Greenwillow, 2004)
*The Flag of Childhood: Poems from the Middle East (Simon & Schuster, 1998)
*Come With Me: Poems for a Journey (Greenwillow, 2000)
*Nineteen Varieties of the Gazelle (Greenwillow, 2002)
*A Maze Me: Poems for Girls (Greenwillow, 2005)
*Honeybee (Greenwillow, 2008)
*Time You Let Me In; 25 Poets Under 25 (Greenwillow, 2010)
Next up: Carrie Fountain
Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2010. All rights reserved.
Image credits: slowmuse.wordpress.com; smith.edu