19 VARIETIES OF GAZELLE by Naomi Shihab Nye
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19 VARIETIES OF GAZELLE

Poems of the Middle East
Age Range: 10 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In a collection as rich as the subject, Nye (Come With Me, 2000, etc.) brings together all of her poems about the Middle East, old and new, familiar and unknown. Opening with a poem about a young man just released from prison on the morning of September 11th, she follows with a reflection on what that day has meant for everyone, especially for Arabs and Arab-Americans, who, through Nye, say: “This is not who we are.” She follows with exquisitely nuanced images of fig trees, grandmothers, Palestinian children, the loss of “pleasant pauses,” and “The Man Who Makes Brooms.” Asking “How Long Peace Takes,” Nye writes, “As long as the question—what if I / were you?—has two heads,” and answers a border guard, “We will eat cabbage rolls, rice with sugar and milk, / crisply sizzled eggplant. When the olives come / sailing past / in their little boat, we will line them on our / plates / like punctuation. What do governments have to do / with such pleasure?” Poem after poem will elicit a gasp of surprise, a nod of the head, a pause to reflect. There are no false steps here—only a feeling of sensory overload and a need to take a deep breath and reread or to find someone to share the intensely felt emotion that springs from the lines. In her closing poem, a musing on what one should have said, she writes, “Say it / as if words count.” With this gifted writer, they really do. (Poetry. 10+)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-06-009765-5
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2002




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