Monday, February 26, 2018

Book of the Week: Voices in the Air

Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners

by Naomi Shihab Nye
Published by Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2018
190 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-269184-2
Age 11 and older

“Can we go outside and listen?” Naomi Nye ponders in her introduction. Or stay in. Reflect. Pay. Attention. If we do we’ll find there is no such thing as a too-small moment or memory. The poems here range topically from the treatment of Palestinians (grief), to Ferguson, where Nye grew up (more grief), to the way genuine connection uplifts her. Many poets and writers are introduced across the poems—some in dedications, some in the poems themselves—and further illuminated in Nye’s brief, personal comments at volume’s end. Nye is, above all, a poet of hope and heartening. In “Mountains,” she writes about Jesse, a young man of 21 who was once a 6-year-old child in one of her poetry workshops. “It was my Best Day!” he tells her, and wonders how he can get back to that feeling. “... You knew the truth / when you were six that your street was magical / and full of mountains / though it was utterly flat. / You wrote about the rooster’s songs / and the dog’s barkingful wonder. / You wrote Who do you think I am am am? / And knew instinctively it was more powerful to say / “am” / three times than one— / You are still that person.” Go Jesse. Thank you, Naomi. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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