Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri, to a Palestinian father and an American mother. During her high school years, she lived in Ramallah in Palestine, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her BA in English and world religions from Trinity University.
Nye is the author of numerous books of poems, most recently Cast Away: Poems for Our Time (Greenwillow Books, 2020). Her other books of poetry include The Tiny Journalist (BOA Editions, 2019); Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners (Greenwillow Books, 2018); Transfer (BOA Editions, 2011); You and Yours (BOA Editions, 2005), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award; and 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (Greenwillow Books, 2002), a collection of new and selected poems about the Middle East.
She is also the author of several books of poetry and fiction for children, including Habibi (Simon Pulse, 1997), for which she received the Jane Addams Children's Book Award in 1998.
Nye gives voice to her experience as an Arab American through poems about heritage and peace that overflow with a humanitarian spirit. About her work, the poet William Stafford has said, “her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.”
Her poems and short stories have appeared in various journals and reviews throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle and Far East. She has traveled to the Middle East and Asia for the United States Information Agency three times, promoting international goodwill through the arts.
Nye’s honors include awards from the International Poetry Forum and the Texas Institute of Letters, the Carity Randall Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement Award, and four Pushcart Prizes. She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow. In 1988, she received the Academy of American Poets’ Lavan Award, judged by W. S. Merwin.
Nye served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2010 to 2015, and is the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2019–21. In April 2022, for National Poetry Month, Nye will be the guest editor of Poem-a-Day. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas.