Red Suitcase by Naomi Shihab Nye
(American Poets Continuum)

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Synopsis

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

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 handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like you 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.
 

About Naomi Shihab Nye

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Naomi Shihab Nye has received a Lannan Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, and four Pushcart Prizes. Her collection 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her collection Honeybee was awarded the Arab-American Book Award. She is currently serving on the Board of Chancellors for the Academy of American Poets. Naomi Shihab Nye has edited several honored and popular poetry anthologies, including Time You Let Me In, What Have You Lost?, Salting the Ocean, and This Same Sky, and she is the author of the novels Habibi and Going, Going. She lives with her family in San Antonio, Texas.
 
Published November 1, 1994 by Perfection Learning. 109 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Here Nye's (Yellow Glove) poems travel from American attics to the rutted roads of Palestine.

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