I have to start by saying, Naomi Shihab Nye is one of the most amazing writers whose work I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I have read her poetry and her young adult novel, Habibi, which has been a favorite of mine for years. I am not the biggest fan of poetry, in general (I do like it, but not as much as I do novels or short stories most of the time), but Naomi Shihab Nye is a huge exception to that. I’d rather read her poetry (or her prose) than almost anything else. Her way with words is just astounding and beautiful. Her words, in Honeybee and in all of her other writing that I’ve ever read, bring out so many thoughts and questions and emotions and images and are just so brilliant that my words cannot possibly be enough to describe hers in any way doing justice to them.
Honeybee is a collection of poems and short prose (though the prose is more poetic than most), some right from the author’s experiences and life, others more about politics (though that’s not an adequate description for many–more about the daily lives of those people of whom all we see is the politics of their situation, but she shows their humanity), and others a mixture of the two, being about her experiences as an Arab-American in post-9/11 America. Everything in this book is so honest and true and thoughtful and observant and so, so many things. Often, sad, when we read about the state of the Middle East today or the way we treat our fellow humans. There is despair here, but there is also hope.
Naomi Shihab Nye sees so clearly and writes so wonderfully about the sad state of the world today, as in this poem “Consolation”:
“This morning the newspaper
was too terrible to deliver
so the newsboy just pitched out
a little sheaf
Naomi Shihab Nye takes the title of my favorite poet, hands down, even more so after reading this collection. It will be available in May, at which point I strongly suggest you go and buy and read it. Until then, go read something else of hers, if you haven’t already!
The sad thing? One of the greatest poets and writers around is probably on a ton of government watch lists because she has the courage to speak the truth (and does so quite eloquently). And, of course, because of her ethnicity. What a world we live in.
*This is from the Uncorrected Proof copy and subject to change in the final book.