"Red Suitcase" by Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye | San Antonio, Texas
A featured poet at the Comfort Quarterly Poetry Event, Spring 2019
Poet, teacher, essayist, anthologist, songwriter and singer, Naomi Shihab Nye is one of the country's most acclaimed writers. Her voice is generous; her vision true; her subjects ordinary people, and ordinary situations which, when rendered through her language, become remarkable. In this, her fourth full collection of poetry, we see with new eyes–a grandmother's scarf, an alarm clock, a man carrying his son on his shoulders.
Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye
You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter and say, "I’ll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.
Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here’s my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.
Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.
Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.
Naomi Shihab Nye, poet, editor, anthologist, is a recipient of writing fellowships from the Lannan and Guggenheim foundations. She is the Poetry Foundation's Young People's Poet Laureate, serving from 2019 to 2021, and is currently the Poetry Editor for New York Times Magazine. Nye’s work has been featured on PBS poetry specials including NOW with Bill Moyers, The Language of Life with Bill Moyers, and The United States of Poetry. She has traveled abroad as a visiting writer on three Arts America tours sponsored by the United States Information Agency. In 2001 she received a presidential appointment to the National Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Paperback: 90 pages
Publication Date: November 1, 1994
Product Dimensions: 0.28" H x 8.99" L x 6.03" W
Shipping Weight: 0.43 lbs