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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    National book award finalist reads work at poetry center

    Tucson has the opportunity tonight to hear from one of the leading voices in American poetry.

    Born to an American mother and Palestinian father, Naomi Shihab Nye has made a name for herself as an award-winning poet and scholar. Drawing from many global influences, Nye has produced more than 20 published volumes, including collections of poetry, essays and other books.

    Focusing on cultures ranging from the Middle East to her current home of Texas, Nye’s work highlights the subtleties in everyday life and events. While dealing with issues sometimes seen as political, her poetry spotlights cultural and humanitarian causes.

    For example, she responded to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with an open letter entitled “”Letter from Naomi Shihab Nye, Arab-American Poet: To Any Would-Be Terrorists.”” In the letter, Nye writes how the attacks directly affected the people around her.

    Nye’s appearance is the first of the UA Poetry Center’s Spring 2007 Visiting Poets and Writers Reading Series. Frances Sjoberg, the Poetry Center’s literary director, calls Nye’s work a “”recognition and celebration of cultural diversity.””

    The Center for Middle Eastern Studies is also co-presenting the event in light of Nye’s frequent Middle Eastern subjects. “”19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East”” is an anthology of poems dedicated entirely to a group of people she believes is plagued by stereotypes.

    “”Hearing poetry that humanizes people from the Middle East is a rare thing,”” said Carrie Brown, UA Center for Middle Eastern Studies outreach coordinator.

    For anyone who thinks he or she is not knowledgeable about the Middle East or even poetry, do not fret: the event is geared toward all members of the Tucson and UA community.

    “”Her poetry is accessible yet surprising,”” Sjoberg says. “”It’s easy to read but hard to write.””

    After the reading, attendees can peruse and purchase Nye’s published works.

    Hearing poetry that humanizes people from the Middle East is a rare thing.

    Carrie Brown UA Center for Middle Eastern Studies outreach coordinator

    Brown urges “”anyone with an interest in understanding humanity”” to attend. “”Almost everyone could find something to take away from this event,”” she says.

    The reading will be held tonight in the Modern Languages auditorium at 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

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