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Naomi Shihab Nye: ‘Read it slowly, and more than once, if you love the poem.’

unnamedHappy National Poetry Month! All throughout April, we will interview poets about working in this digital age. Recently, we spoke with author Naomi Shihab Nye.

Throughout her writing career, Nye has penned short stories, fiction books, and poetry collections. Some of the honors she has received include the the Jane Addams Children’s Book award, the Carity Randall Prize, and the The Pushcart Prize. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: How did you publish your first book of poetry?
A: I had been sending poems to magazines since I was 7 years old. An editor in Texas, where I went to college, had seen my poems in a regional magazine and invited me to send enough poems for a little chapbook, then he printed a second one. My motto would become – Each thing gives us something else.

Q: Has the internet changed the way you interact with readers?
A: Interacting with readers is certainly speedier now! It’s a gift, though I still love handwritten letters in the mail too.

Q: Any tips for reading poetry out loud?
A: Read it slowly, and more than once, if you love the poem. Find people who might appreciate your reading to them, and practice.

Q: What advice can you share for aspiring poets?
A: Read, read, then read some more. Write in response – allow your reading to trigger your own writing, stylistically or thematically, then take it from there – and find a way to share your work, even with a few people.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: My next book, The Turtle of Oman, a novel for very young readers, is forthcoming from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins – about a boy named Aref who feels uncertain about leaving his beloved hometown of Muscat, Oman. (As a child I liked the fact that my name Naomi, spelled I Moan backwards, but also, could be jumbled to Omani – I wanted to visit that wonderful country for decades before doing it.)

(Photo Credit: Michael Nye)

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