2006 Student Research Conference:
19th Annual Undergraduate and 4th Annual Graduate Research Conference

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Plenary Address

Naomi Shihab Nye
Acclaimed Poet, Essayist, and Teacher


Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet.” She has spent the last 30 years crossing 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 many parts of the world including Asia and the Middle East, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity. Naomi Shihab Nye is the author and/or editor of more than 20 volumes. Her books of poetry include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, Red Suitcase, Words Under Words, Fuel, and You & Yours (2005). She is also the author of Mint Snowball (paragraphs); Never in a Hurry (a collection of essays); Habibi (a novel for young readers); and Sitti’s Secrets (a picture book). Other works include a picture book, Baby Radar, and eight prize-winning poetry anthologies for young readers, including Is This Forever, Or What?: Poems & Paintings from Texas and A Maze Me: Poems for Girls (2005), as well as a novel for teens, Going Going (2005). Naomi Shihab Nye has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Wittner Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She has received, among other honors, a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, four Pushcart Prizes, and numerous awards and citations for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards and the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award for 2005 for You & Yours. Her collection 19 Varieties of Gazelle was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is a regular columnist for Organica and poetry editor for The Texas Observer. Her work has been presented on National Public Radio on such shows as A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac. She has been featured on two PBS poetry specials: “The Language of Life with Bill Moyers” and “The United States of Poetry” and also appeared on NOW with Bill Moyers. “In the current literary scene, one of the most heartening influences is the work of Naomi Shihab Nye. Her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.” — William Stafford “Naomi Shihab Nye breathes poetry like the rest of us breathe air. When she exhales, the world becomes different. Better.”The Grand Rapids Press Photo credit: Michael Nye


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