Naomi Shihab Nye Is New Young People’s Poet Laureate

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm May 14, 2019

The Poetry Foundation named Naomi Shihab Nye the Young People’s Poet Laureate, making her the first Arab American to hold the position, according to the School Library Journal. Nye will hold the appointment for two years, during which she will promote poetry to children and their families, teachers and librarians.

In the Poetry Foundation’s announcement, the organization notes that Nye is being honored for her connection with children:


Nye is acclaimed as a children’s writer for her sensitivity and cultural awareness, such as in her book “19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East,” published just after September 11, 2001, which invites readers to reflect and explore life as an Arab American. Also acclaimed for her work for adults, Nye’s writing moves seamlessly between ages in a way that is accessible, warm and sophisticated even for the youngest of readers. Her poetry collections for young adults include “​​​​​​​Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners” and “​​​​​​​A Maze Me: Poems for Girls.”

Her work will put her in direct contact with her audience, per the Foundation:


Naomi Shihab Nye will serve from 2019 to 2021, aiming to bring poetry to geographically underserved, or rural communities through readings underwritten by the Poetry Foundation. In addition, every month during her tenure, which begins in August, she will recommend a new poetry book for young readers.

Nye has previously won the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Lavan Award, several Pushcart Prizes, and the American Library Association’s May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award.