Naomi Shihab Nye: 19 Varieties of Gazelle

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I must preface my thoughts on this book with these thoughts: I feel that in holding 19 Varieties of Gazelle in my hands, I am holding a piece of Naomi Shihab Nye’s heart. It is a heart that beats similarly to my own, pulsing with similar beliefs. For this reason, I feel strongly about this work — where it dazzled me, and where it did not. I must also admit that I am deeply skeptical of political poetry, a trait exacerbated by the contemporary barrage of bad political poems.

Robert Archambeau recently noted that far too few poets criticize each other authentically, that we in essence talk around one another because we inhabit a small community in which nobody wants to offend someone who might one day be reviewing your own work. I propose a very different reason — that poetry at its best is an inherently intimate form. Therefore neither do I want to tread on Naomi’s heart, nor do I want to gloss over the work with absent-minded approbation. Instead, I hope to impart some of the only real thing I own: my experience, and my reflection upon it.
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