Booking and details
Dates Wed, May 10, 2023 7:30pm
Duration 60 minutes
Each year, the Folger Poetry Board, supporters of the O.B Hardison Poetry series, selects a distinguished poet to share their favorite poems from other poets and to read from their own work. This year’s Folger Poetry Board reader is Naomi Shihab Nye.
About Naomi Shihab Nye
An award-winning Palestinian-American poet, writer, anthologist, and educator, Naomi Shihab Nye is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes. She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She’s been a recipient of many awards for her poetry and received numerous honors for her children’s literature. She was named the 2019 – 2021 Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. In 2020 she was awarded the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement by the National Book Critics Circle. In 2021 she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Nye is Professor of Creative Writing – Poetry at Texas State University.
Past Folger Poetry Board Readers
Nye follows in the steps of noted poets Martin Espada, Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, Rita Dove, Octavio Paz, Gwendolyn Brooks, former British Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, and current British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, all former Folger Poetry Board Readers, a designation which began in 1991 with Mr. Heaney.
Each patron will also receive an electronic broadside, a handwritten poem, by Naomi Shihab Nye.
The river is famous to the fish.
The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.
The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.
The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.
The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.
I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.
I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.
Naomi Shihab Nye, “Famous” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, copyright © 1995. Used with permission of Far Corner Books.
Source: Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Far Corner Books, 1995)
Where We Belong
Please note: All attendees are required to wear a mask. Fully vaccinated artists will not be wearing masks while performing. The Folger is committed to maintaining the highest level of health and safety precautions around COVID-19. Learn more about how we are keeping our audience and performers safe: COVID-19 safety protocols