I wasn't planning on participating this week. It's the last week of school, and it's been a doozy. But then when I went to Mary Lee's blog, I discovered that this week is a tribute to Naomi Shihab Nye. And Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorite poets. A million years ago, ok, actually in the early 1990's, I was in San Antonio for the International Reading Association's annual conference. My friend, Lisa, who is a poet and actually did her dissertation the role of poetry in the elementary classroom, saw a sign for a poetry reading and wanted to go. I tagged along with her.
And as you can probably guess, the poet who was reading was Naomi Shihab Nye. She read in a little tiny bookstore close to the Riverwalk. Probably twenty or so people attended the reading. Her son played with trucks on the floor in the back of the room. I fell in love with Naomi's work that night and have loved it ever since. Here are the last two stanzas of a poem I love. You can read the whole thing here.
"Different Ways to Pray"
...There were those who didn’t care about praying.
The young ones. The ones who had been to America.
They told the old ones, you are wasting your time.
Time?—The old ones prayed for the young ones.
They prayed for Allah to mend their brains,
for the twig, the round moon,
to speak suddenly in a commanding tone.
And occasionally there would be one
who did none of this,
the old man Fowzi, for example, Fowzi the fool,
who beat everyone at dominoes,
insisted he spoke with God as he spoke with goats,