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'Be Surrounded By Poems': Revisiting Our Conversation With Naomi Shihab Nye On Monday's Access Utah

UC Davis School of Education

Poet Naomi Shihab Nye says “I grew up in Ferguson, Mo. No one ever heard of it, unless you lived elsewhere in St. Louis County. Then my family moved to Palestine – my father’s first home. A friend says, ‘Your parents really picked the garden spots.’ In Ferguson, an invisible line separated white and black communities. In Jerusalem, a no-man’s land separated people, designated by barbed wire.

Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet and anthologist and the acclaimed author, among many other books, of “Habibi: A Novel” and “Sitti's Secrets,” a picture book, which was based on her own experiences visiting her beloved Sitti in Palestine. Her book “19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East” was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has won several Pushcart Prizes and served for 5 years as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She has taught writing and worked in schools all over the world, including in Muscat, Oman. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.


Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.