Friday, February 08, 2008

A new poem (and book) for Valentine's Day

In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up next week, I’d like to feature a poem from Naomi Shihab Nye’s amazing new collection, Honeybee (Greenwillow, 2008). Her new anthology includes 82 poems, including many prose poems, on school, war, families, landscapes and bees… the connecting thread that buzzes through the poems with nectar and implication. There are many selections about words and books and libraries (one of my favorite poem topic that I have featured previously). She takes us along with her in her travels through Texas (her home state and mine) and Egypt and childhood and airports and beehives. It’s a striking variety of vignettes and anecdotes and observations all threaded through her unique poetic voice. Honeybee is political, personal, and powerful. I marked at least eight poems that I just had to keep in my “favorite poems” notebook. Here’s one small sampling about love and marriage from the point of view of a two year old!


Lyda Rose walked through our front door and said.
“Where is the sock monkey? I need him.” This surprised
me. She had never shown any interest in the sock mon-
key before.

We began digging in the tall basked where the stuffed animals

Lyda Rose said, “I am two and a half now, did you know
that? Where is he?”

We threw out the snake, the yellow bunnies, battered
bears, a strange small eagle wearing a blue T-shirt, a soft
camel, and the bird that makes a chickadee sound if you
press its belly.

Sock Monkey was buried at the bottom.

Lyda Rose clutched him to her chest. “My husband!” she
said, closing her eyes dreamily.

I was astonished. “Your husband? When did this happen?”

She spoke clearly and definitely. “I thought of him and
I married him in my mind.”

She ran around the dining room clutching her husband
tightly, singing the song of a chickadee trapped in a
human body.

“How great! I am happy for you both! I said,
following her.

She did not answer, lost in a newlywed’s swoon.

I said, “It is so nice that you love him now!”

And she stopped dancing, staring at me

“I didn’t say I love him! I said, he is my husband!” *

p. 79-80

Poignant, funny, unsentimental, crystal clear and child-sincere. What a gem!

And don’t forget to join the Poetry Friday Round Up at AmoXcalli.
Picture credit:


Anonymous said...

I'll have to look for the book. Thanks for letting me know it's out, Sylvia.

That poem reads more like a story to me, but it is dead accurate for how children communicate.

Sara said...

This book looks fantastic.

My daughter once told me she was going to marry a boy she played with in the sandbox at school.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because he does everything I tell him to," she said.

Sylvia Vardell said...

Yes, I look forward to every new Nye book and this one is another gem!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

LOL That is priceless. I need this book right now. I'm so glad you posted about it!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Yes, HONEYBEE is a gem. This piece ("Accuracy") reflects some of the lightness (with an edge) in the collection. But selections range from deeply moving to very angry to highly provocative. It's a must-get, I agree!

Rev. Linda said...

I love your blog. I will be adding this book to my list, also.

I have a 2+ year old granddaughter and these words could have come from her mouth. Watching her develop her "self" is awe-inspiring, poignant, hilarious and emotional.

The day she put her two tiny hands on either side of my face, looked into my eyes and said, "I just love you, Nanilin!" I cried for hours.

Old souls and great muses for us writers!


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the poems. I will share them with my students. I wish our state did not filter out blogspot from our school computers. The students miss so much.
Kathy R.

Mimi said...

The poem is actually Lyda Rose instead of Lydia Rose. My niece is naming her expected baby girl Lydia Rose and I ordered this book as a special little treat because of the poem, but when it came, it was Lyda instead of Lydia.

Sylvia Vardell said...

Oops! How did I miss that? Thanks for catching my error-- and for stopping by!