The Craft of Nye

naomi-shibab-nye

When I first came to Douglas Anderson I swore I would never write poetry. How could I?  Poetry was constructed of line breaks, and choices. Like fiction these choices were made with intention, but with poetry the intention was a hard technique to learn, a hard technique to master. When I look back and think of what scared me most, was how raw poetry allowed one to be. Every word gave away a personal detail. It feared me to know that in a few stanzas people could know aspects of myself I never shared with anyone other than myself.

My junior year I wrote my first real poem, what deemed it real is I had to share it with others, yet I didn’t hide my emotion, the emotion I was always scared of sharing. Of course it was the cliché poem about the death of my grandmother. Later that year I had to recite a poem of my choice, and I chose Naomi Shihab Nye. A poet crafted in detail, and symbolism. Metaphors that brought me to the sands of the Middle East, every word counted.  What brought me to Nye was how she respectfully wrote about her heritage half American, half middle eastern. I always had a hard time writing about my half Albanian heritage. I felt as if I didn’t have a right to those topics, because it was only half of my identity.  The poem I recited my junior year was titled Blood, a commentary on war, and a narrative about how it affected her father, symbolism for how it affects us all.

“Years before, a girl knocked, 

wanted to see the Arab. 

I said we didn’t have one. 

After that, my father told me who he was, 

“Shihab”—“shooting star”— 

a good name, borrowed from the sky. 

Once I said, “When we die, we give it back?” 

He said that’s what a true Arab would say.”

Yet Nye  wrote about this in the perspective of herself  an American, who is so torn by what is happening, torn because even though she is an American they are still her people.

Nye is the reason I can write about my own father, about my own heritage, and also why I can write about being an American. Because what does the word American really mean? Who gets to fit that description? Nye has made me consider how every detail counts, how a title can convey much more than it seems, and that displaying a picture in someone’s head is a gift that not many can master. Nye is the reason I have never felt that when it came to my heritage I had to choose.  

-Mary Feimi, Co-Editor in Chief