Poetry Friday: Celebrating Namoi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry has informed my teaching and writing for many years. I am thrilled about her recent selection as our Young People’s Poet Laureate. Her poetry inspires, and she generously shares her wisdom in interviews, presentations, and volumes such as Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets, Rip the Page! Adventures in Creative Writingand more. I created this sign early in my career and it still hangs in my classroom:

Here’s another bit of wisdom that I love:

I’ve been scouring my books and the web, searching for just the right poem to share today. I’ve shared many of my favorites previously, and I didn’t have a lot of time to write this week. As usual, though, inspiration came through at the last minute from Mary Lee Hahn, this week’s hostess for Poetry Friday and today’s Naomi Shihab Nye celebration. She directed me to Colby Sharp’s The Creativity Project, where Nye encouraged writers to “Write a list of ten things you are NOT (not an astronaut, a perfectionist, a wool spinner, a butterfly, a name-caller). Then pick your favorite lines and develop, or embellish, them, adding metaphors, more description, whatever you like.”

Here is a draft of my response:

I am not someone who speaks
the language of birds.
But at dawn, when they sing a tune
from the distant past,
their chirps and whistles ripple
into the silence
of the sleeping house,
reaching into my dreams,
recognition stirs inside me
and their melody carries
me into the day.

© Catherine Flynn, 2019

Don’t forget to visit Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Celebrating Namoi Shihab Nye

  1. Nothing nicer than to be carried into the day like that, Catherine. I get so excited when i hear the chickadees then spot them tip-toeing along the tree limbs. You’ve written a wonderful response to Nye’s (and Mary Lee’s) ‘not’ prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great poem, Catherine! I loved that prompt but haven’t had a chance to play around with it yet. Your poem is a wonderful response. I love the idea of birdsong carrying you into the day. This is so lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how those ancient songs speak to you in a way that you understand in your dream-state, but take with you throughout the day! Thanks for taking the I AM NOT challenge with me!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your poem about the language of birds. I listen while walking and would love to know what they are saying. This is an exercise I should try.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Recognition stirs inside me…” I love that, especially as someone trying to learn more about birds. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

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