I have just finished “Voices in the Air” (Greenwillow Books 2018), a day-book of poetry by American poet Naomi Shihab Nye of German and Palestinian heritage. It’s subtitled “Poems for Listeners” and reflects her range of subjects reflective of a healthy curiosity. The poems will appeal to those equally curious or willing to be.
I was lucky to watch Nye read recently in Baltimore, Maryland, at the splendid auditorium of The Baltimore Museum of Art. That is my favorite way to be introduced to a new poet. Of course, Nye is the author of several books, has been published widely, and I have encountered her poetry before in magazines and online. Still, my inscribed copy “Voices in the Air” is the first time I’ve read a full book of Nye’s.
Nye is a delightful creative spirit; that was on full display during her reading. Through many asides, she shared tidbits from her creative practice. Likewise, “Voices in the Air” is a collection of accessible poetry that ranges across topics with enchanting imagination. I appreciate the energy of these poems.
Nye’s poetry may be straightforward, and written for a wide audience. Likewise, the stars at night, shining. This book can be read by a precocious high school student and also will reward adults who like pleasure, travel, and wisdom in literature.
I enjoyed “Voices in the Air” and I will probably read it again soon. It sorts of passes through like a sweet breeze. Why not once more? I call it a day-book of sorts, because the book collects various interests in no framed order and so imparts a loose, joyful, insightful, and curious atmosphere. There is no frigate like a book, said Emily Dickinson. True here of Nye’s poems.
G. H. Mosson