Sunday, December 9, 2018

Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners

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

Summary: Acclaimed and award-winning poet, teacher, and National Book Award finalist Naomi Shihab Nye’s uncommon and unforgettable voice offers readers peace, humor, inspiration, and solace. This volume of almost one hundred original poems is a stunning and engaging tribute to the diverse voices past and present that comfort us, compel us, lead us, and give us hope.

Voices in the Air is a collection of almost one hundred original poems written by the award-winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye in honor of the artists, writers, poets, historical figures, ordinary people, and diverse luminaries from past and present who have inspired her. Full of words of encouragement, solace, and hope, this collection offers a message of peace and empathy.

Voices in the Air celebrates the inspirational people who strengthen and motivate us to create, to open our hearts, and to live rewarding and graceful lives. With short informational bios about the influential figures behind each poem, and a transcendent introduction by the poet, this is a collection to cherish, read again and again, and share with others. Includes an index.

My Thoughts:

This is definitely a collection that made me think. There were many times when I wanted to stop and jot down notes. In the introduction, she explains the Japanese word yutori. It means life-space. Giving yourself room to make mistakes as well as the possibility of succeeding. It can also simply mean having a power cord long enough to reach the outlet. She explains that poetry gives us more space to contemplate life and have more room to listen. I like all of this. Then while reading the poetry, in the pauses and in the words, I found space for contemplation.

What is wonderful about this collection is the ability for the reader to find themselves and connections to themselves throughout the poems. Poetry offers a space to search for meaning and connection to the poem and to the poet. In "The Bamboo Mind" my mind rushed back to the bamboo forest near Kyoto.

In "Unsung--on Finding" my knitting basket popped into view. Not only mine, but the basket of my mother-in-law who had saved the yarn from her mother's basket. All this yarn waiting for projects. Some of the yarn in my basket is likely older than I am.

In "Bundle," she writes:

"And consider the people at any crossing walk,
     how you will never cross with them again,
isn't that enough to make a charm?"


There was no way to not think of Shibayu crossing and the young university students we met there. We will never cross with them again. We will never have that exact arrangement of people again, but we certainly have the memory.

Aside from these personal types of memories this poetry inspired, it also brought current political events, opinions, and personalities up for thought. I appreciated this line attributed to Grace Paley, "Politics is simply the way human beings treat one another on the earth."

Not every poem was exactly what I needed, but they are well crafted and so many of them really pulled at me and shook my shoulders telling me to pay attention. Another line that caught me was, "We are here, so deeply here, and then we won't be."

Naolmi Shihab Nye has a lovely way with words and I am always happy to spend time with her poetry. This collection shares not only her voice, but the voices of many other poets and people from her life. I appreciate how these poems speak and how they point to the poetry of others.

No comments:

Post a Comment