review by Nina Dinan, age 15

Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners by Naomi Shihab Nye

    In this lovely collection of free verse poems written in a serene, contemplative tone, Naomi Shihab Nye explores a variety of subjects. Her poems include wistful exaltations of nature, laments written for Palestine, and soaring tributes to fellow poets. Even her introduction is beautifully poetic, setting the tone for the collection. Nye writes, “Not so long ago we were never checking anything in our hands, scrolling down, pecking with a finger, obsessively tuning in… In those archaic but still vivid days, there might be a meandering walk into trees, an all-day bike ride, a backyard picnic, a gaze into a stream, a plunge into a sunset, a conversation with pines, a dig in the dirt, to find our messages.” These poems act as a soft reminder to seek such messages, and to listen for the voices in the air.
    My favorite poems in this collection are those honoring poets. There are verses devoted to Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Langston Hughes, among others. The poem “Emily” begins, “What would you do if you knew / that even during wartime / scholars in Baghdad / were translating your poems / into Arabic / still believing / in the thing with feathers?” In the wonderful poem “Tell Us All the Gossip You Know,” Nye honors several poets and authors, including Mary Oliver, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Emily Dickinson. Another poem I enjoyed was “The Tent,” which ends with these beautiful lines: “Even at night in a desert, temperatures plummet, / billowing tent flaps murmur to one another.”
    I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys poetry. 3.5/5 stars.

Find this book in our catalog: Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners

Catalog Number: J 811.6 NYE

190 pages

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