In Celebration of Books

Naomi Shihab Nye In Celebration of Books November 2022

In Celebration of Books Welcomes Naomi Shihab Nye on Nov. 15

On Tuesday, November 15, Gunston’s In Celebration of Books program will welcome Naomi Shihab Nye, an award-winning Palestinian-American poet, writer, anthologist, and educator. She has spent more than 40 years traveling the country and the world to lead writing workshops and inspiring students of all ages. Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother and grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her experiences traveling in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity. She is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes.

Her books of poetry for adults and children include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (a finalist for the National Book Award), A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, Red Suitcase, Words Under the Words, Fuel, Transfer, You & Yours (a bestselling poetry book of 2006), Mint Snowball, Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners, Come with Me: Poems for a Journey, Honeybee (awarded the 2008 Arab American Book Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category), The Tiny Journalist (Best Poetry Book from both the Texas Institute of Letters and the Writers League of Texas), Cast Away: Poems for Our Time (one of the Washington Post’s best children’s books of 2020), and Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems.

Her collections of essays include Never in a Hurry, and I’ll Ask You Three Times, Are you Okay? Tales of Driving and Being Driven. Her fiction books for young people include Habibi, Going Going, There Is No Long Distance Now, and The Turtle of Oman. The Turtle of Oman was chosen a Horn Book Best Book of 2014, a 2015 Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association, and was awarded the 2015 Middle East Book Award for Youth Literature. Her picture books include Baby Radar, Sitti’s Secrets, and Famous. She has also edited nine poetry anthologies including I Feel a Little Jumpy Around You, Time You Let Me In, This Same Sky, The Space Between Our Footsteps, and What Have You Lost?.

Her new book is The Turtle of Michigan (Greenwillow Books, March 15, 2022) a sequel to The Turtle of Oman. Naomi Shihab Nye has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She has received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, the Robert Creeley Prize, and “The Betty Prize” from Poets House, for service to poetry, and numerous honors for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards. In 2011 Nye won the Golden Rose Award given by the New England Poetry Club, the oldest poetry reading series in the country. Her collection 19 Varieties of Gazelle was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her work has been presented on National Public Radio on A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac.

She has been featured on two PBS poetry specials including “The Language of Life with Bill Moyers” and also appeared on NOW with Bill Moyers. She has been affiliated with The Michener Center for writers at the University of Texas at Austin for 20 years and also poetry editor at The Texas Observer for 20 years. In 2019-2020 she was the editor for New York Times Magazine poems. She is Chancellor Emeritus for the Academy of American Poets, a laureate of the 2013 NSK Neustadt Award for Children’s Literature, and in 2017 the American Library Association presented In 2018 the Texas Institute of Letters awarded her the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. She was named the 2019 - 2021 Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. In 2020 she was awarded the Ivan Sandr of Award for Lifetime Achievement by the National Book Critics Circle. In 2021 she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Nye is Professor of Creative Writing - Poetry at Texas State University.

Mission
At Gunston, we believe in the transformative power of language and the study of writing as craft. Our In Celebration of Books program is one way that we instill these values in our students. Each year, we invite a writer of local, regional, and national prominence to our campus. Consistent with our mission of educating “ethically and environmentally minded scholars, citizens, and leaders for our globalized society,” the program features authors from all fields and disciplines. In addition to a public reading or talk, each guest also visits the classroom, where students have the unique opportunity to interact with them in a highly-personalized environment. 

History
For nearly three decades, In Celebration of Books has been a revered tradition at Gunston. It began in the boarding school days, where teachers would dress as their favorite authors. In time, the program evolved into a full day of workshops and readings that brought as many as twelve renowned writers to campus. Our current format is designed to provide students with consistent exposure to living writers, whose areas of expertise align with our curricular programming. Over the course of their four years at Gunston, students can expect to hear a diverse array of voices, from journalists and novelists to poets, historians, environmentalists, and other scientists.

Gunston has hosted such notable writers as the late Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Richard Ben Cramer; Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award winner for In the Heart of the Sea; the former poet laureate of Maryland, Michael Glaser; Tom Horton, author of numerous books about the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay region; and poet Nick Flynn, whose memoir was the basis for the film, Being Flynn, starring Robert DeNiro.