Naomi Shihab Nye"All of us think in poems."

Day 8: Inspiration from Naomi Shihab Nye (National Poetry Month)

Poem A Day

the Typewriter Poetry edition

Yesterday, I listened to the music of typewriter keys punching their way through a poem. It’s nice to be on the passive end, once in a while. Being able to just listen to each keystroke blend together in the flurry of inspiration is one of the most satisfying feelings. So often, when we’re the ones writing, we get caught up in the fight for flow, not realizing there’s already one there.

Are you enjoying this month’s Typewriter Poetry? Send in your thoughts! You can also submit your own typewritten poem, read works by other writers, or simply follow this blog (& @typewriterpoetry on Instagram).

Thanks for joining us on Day 8, Poem 8 of April 2016’s National Poetry Month!

Day 8, Poem 8

The daily poem-a-day gallery continues to grow! Take a peak at the Daily Typewriter Poetry post to read featured typewriter poetry.


Writing Quotes

Let’s keep it going with a new writing quote. Today’s daily inspiration comes from the wonderful Naomi Shihab Nye. Previous inspirational poetry writing quotes:

Today’s Quote

All of us think in poems.”

Naomi Shihab Nye

“Naomi Shihab Nye at AWP

At this year’s Association of Writers & Writer’s Groups (AWP) Conference & Bookfair, Nye was the featured presenter for the panel “Poetry, Politics, and Place.”

She asked herself one question she had never been asked before, but always wanted to answer:

Q: Why were you more excited to attend Van Morrison’s outdoor birthday concerts on Cyprus Avenue in Belfast, Northern Ireland than all the millions of marvelous readings you’ve ever attended?

A: I have no idea.


“Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye

One of my favorite poems by Nye is Gate A-4. As someone who travels–a lot–there were so many things that rung true in her story: the strange septic environment of transportation (planes, trains, buses and things), how a moment fraught with tension can be met by compassion and turned into a celebration. “This can still happen anywhere.” It’s something I believe with all my being, a reminder to challenge the self to participate in unfolding our expectations to reveal the bleeding heart too tender to touch within each moment.

My absolute favorite part has to do with a plant (no surprise there). I won’t spoil it for you. Instead, I hope you take a moment to breathe these words in and let it soak you in that weird cuddly feeling we all get when we feel nice and warm.

Gate A-4

by Naomi Shihab Nye


Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life, patting my knee, answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies— little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts— from her bag and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single traveler declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo— we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

Then the airline broke out free apple juice and two little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they were covered with powdered sugar too. And I noticed my new best friend— by now we were holding hands— had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate— once the crying of confusion stopped— seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.



Donate to Tupelo Press


For #NationalPoetryMonth, I’m fundraising on behalf of Tupelo Press, a small literary publisher. Tupelo’s 30/30 Project is an all-year monthly round of writing a poem a day. Check out their website. You can read the collection of poetry I volunteered to write for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project. I also encourage you to donate in my name to Tupelo Press. 100% of proceeds go to their literary press, it’s tax-deductible, and you’ll be a patron of the arts!


suck myself out the heart i give it back


Enjoying the work I’ve been steadily producing for National Poetry Month? It’s for my upcoming art book, suck myself out the heart i give it back. Tag along for the ride! You can watch my artistic process unfold at