#AWP16 Featured Presenter Q&A with Naomi Shihab Nye
AWP | January 2016
Event Title: Poetry, Politics, and Place: A Reading and Conversation with Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Luis J. Rodriguez, Sponsored by Poets House
Description: These leading poets read their poems and discuss their poetry-activism in New York, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and around the country. Each engages poetic practice and community building with projects that expand poetry's place in our lives and culture: Griffiths through photography, Nye through writing for children, and Rodriguez through publishing projects and political organizing. The transformative power of poetry brings these three together to talk about how we can make a better world.
Participants: Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Stephen Motika, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Luis Rodriguez
Date & Time: Thursday, March 31, 2016, 1:30pm – 2:45pm
Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
A: Among so many great books this past year, I loved Karim Dimechkie's first novel Lifted by the Great Nothing, W.S. Merwin's poems in The Moon Before Morning, Jane Hirshfield's poems in The Beauty, Mark Doty's poems in Deep Lane, Noel Crook's poems in Salt Moon, Susan Casey's must-read Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins, and the gorgeous anthology we all need to use in classes, Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction, edited by our late beloved Judith Kitchen and Dinah Lenney. [Also] The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander.
Q: Given how much time writers spend alone to practice their craft, what do you think are the advantages of creating the large community that exists at the AWP conference?
A: Obviously, feeling part of a family, part of a tribe. Exchanging contact information. Making friends who might last a really long time. Discovering so many books and voices you never knew before.
Q: What question that you’ve never been asked before would you like to ask yourself? And how would you answer that question?
A: Q: Why were you more excited to attend Van Morrison's outdoor birthday concerts on Cyprus Avenue in Belfast, Northern Ireland than all the millions of marvelous readings you've ever attended? A: I have no idea.
Q: Outside of the conference, what about Los Angeles are you looking forward to? Are there any Los Angeles activities you would recommend to conference attendees?
A: Los Angeles is always thrilling. The old Farmer's Market area, the beach, the museums, the galleries...just walking around residential neighborhoods, even. Beautiful trees and plants, an open graciousness.
Naomi Shihab Nye’s books of poetry include Transfer, You & Yours, and 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, and she is also a critically acclaimed author of poetry and fiction for children and young adults. She has served as a Lannan Fellow and a Guggenheim Fellow, and has been honored by the Texas Institute of Letters, the International Poetry Forum, and the Library of Congress. She has served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets since 2009. (Photo credit: Chehalis Hegner)