This video segment from Poetry Everywhere features the poet Naomi Shihab Nye reading her poem "One Boy Told Me" at the Dodge Poetry Festival. “Words can give you something back if you trust them,” says Naomi Shihab Nye; “and if you know that you're not trying to proclaim things all the time, but you're trying to discover things.” “One Boy Told Me” is an example of how Nye’s life-affirming poetry lets someone who doesn’t use formal language proclaim his own meaning.
For a biography of the poet Naomi Shihab NyeNaomi Shihab Nye please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.
Nye has an ear for people’s unadorned, unedited words. “A little girl said to me, ‘Poetry has been eating all my problems.’” Nye recounts. “And I said, ‘What do you mean by that?’” And she said, ‘It just makes me feel better when I read it, or when I write it.’”
Nye’s poetry often gives a voice to unexpected characters: a cat, a river, a stone, and, very often, children. She writes poems that take small, or unnoticed people or items seriously, celebrating them.
“One Boy Told Me”, Nye says, is a “found poem;” she didn’t make any of the lines up herself. Instead, they are all things that her son said to her when he was two and three years old. Nye selected these lines from thousands of quotes from her son that she wrote down, finding lines that best express her belief that we all start out as poets, and over time learn to fit ourselves into regular language and commonplace ideas, losing our poetic language in the process. In her son’s words she finds the original poet in everyone, and everyone reading the poem can reconnect to their own lost poet inside, remembering when they used to see the world—and describe it—in unique ways.
Some of the quotes are easy to understand and appreciate for their humor. Some the reader must reflect on for a minute or two and still others are mysterious. The overall emotion is one of celebration, liveliness, and the love between parent and child, expressed in clear and unexpected ways
Read a biography of the poet Naomi Shihab Nye at the Poetry Foundation Web site.
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