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News - Naomi Shihab Nye archive coming to The Wittliff

Naomi Shihab Nye
Photo courtesy Michael Nye

RELEASED January 30, 2018

SAN MARCOS, TX – Internationally acclaimed poet Naomi Shihab Nye’s literary papers are joining The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University.

Nye, one of the Southwest’s most prominent literary voices, was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother. She grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio, where she makes her home today. She describes herself as a “wandering poet.” Her writing evokes our shared humanity and her award-winning work has been featured in everything from Bill Moyers’ television specials to National Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion to the recent U2 concert tour.

As the poet William Stafford observed, Nye’s poems “combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.”

“Naomi Shihab Nye is a literary treasure,” said Wittliff Collections Literary Curator, Steve Davis. “Her poems have touched so many people across the world. It is such an honor for us to safeguard and celebrate her literary legacy at The Wittliff.”

Nye said, "It is an astonishing wonder that one's papers, notebooks, photos, letters, the bits and pieces of one's ramshackle and rambunctious life - could be housed in a place of organized dignity, gracious conservation, and sweet repose. I am profoundly grateful to The Wittliff Collection and its incredibly thoughtful archivists for their interest in my work.”

Nye’s literary papers acquired by The Wittliff comprise some thirty-five boxes and include Nye’s first poem, “Chicago,” hand-written and illustrated at age six. The archive also contains hundreds of hand-written drafts of later poems, journals from her extensive world-wide travels, numerous photographs, rare publications and publicity materials, and correspondence with other major writers.

The papers are currently being processed by The Wittliff’s archives staff and will be available for research and exhibition upon completion.

Nye is the author and/or editor of more than thirty volumes. Her honors include awards from the International Poetry Forum and the Texas Institute of Letters, the Charity Randall Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, and a National Book Award finalist. She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Library of Congress Witter Bynner Fellow. In 1988, she received the Academy of American Poets’ Lavan Award, judged by W. S. Merwin. She was appointed a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2010.

Nye’s books of poetry include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, Red Suitcase, Words Under the Words, Fuel, and You & Yours (a best-selling poetry book of 2006.)

She is also the author of Mint Snowball, Never in a Hurry, I’ll Ask You Three Times, Are you Okay? Tales of Driving and Being Driven (essays); Habibi and Going Going (novels for young readers); Baby Radar, Sitti's Secrets, and Famous (picture books) and There Is No Long Distance Now (a collection of very short stories.)

Her other works include several prize-winning poetry anthologies for young readers, including Time You Let Me In, This Same Sky, The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems & Paintings from the Middle East, What Have You Lost?, and Transfer.

Her collection of poems for young adults entitled Honeybee won the 2008 Arab American Book Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category. Her latest novel for children, The Turtle of Oman, was chosen both a Best Book of 2014 by The Horn Book and a 2015 Notable Children's Book by the American Library Association. The Turtle of Oman was also awarded the 2015 Middle East Book Award for Youth Literature.

Nye’s next book will be Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners (Feb 2018; Greenwillow Books, HarperCollins).

For more information about Naomi Shihab Nye: