STARRED REVIEW
February 13, 2018

Poetry that cuts through the noise

By Naomi Shihab Nye

The central question around which Naomi Shihab Nye has crafted Voices in the Air is one she poses in her introduction: “With so much vying for our attention, how do we listen better?” This collection of poems is an attempt to perhaps provide an answer to that very question, to offer examples of how we can find that quiet inspiration that’s as necessary as water, and to show how doing so might just save us all.

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Naomi Shihab Nye poses a question in her introduction that echoes throughout Voices in the Air: “With so much vying for our attention, how do we listen better?” This collection of poems aimed at teen readers is an attempt to perhaps provide an answer to that very question, to offer examples of how we can find that quiet inspiration that’s necessary as water and to show how doing so might just save us all.

Throughout her poems in this volume, Nye honors her heroes—both literary and otherwise—all the while pulling inspiration from everything around her, as if all she had to do was stop talking long enough to listen to the stories that have been floating right past her. She encourages readers to break the cocoon of worry; to seek a personal peace rather than giving in to external anxieties; and to throw off the pressures of our modern, always-on culture in favor of something that’s a little slower, more perceptive and more receptive. Citing Jack Kerouac’s vital advice, she reminds us all: “Rest and be kind, you don’t have to prove anything.”

Nye has won many awards throughout her writing career, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and four Pushcart Prizes, and like her previous acclaimed works, Voices in the Air remains both sensitive and culturally aware, all the while achieving her goal of steadily transmitting simple stories that hit close to heart.

 

Justin Barisich is a freelancer, satirist, poet and performer living in Atlanta. More of his writing can be found at littlewritingman.com.

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Voices in the Air

Voices in the Air

By Naomi Shihab Nye
Greenwillow
ISBN 9780062691842

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