National Library Week
Each year, there is a seven day overlap between National Library Week and National Poetry Month that feels particularly apt, as we recognize both libraries and the universe of poetry as ways to infuse both literature and everyday life with joy but also as sources—and resources—for grappling with challenge. Both, too, can be the fuel and lifeblood of community. As we close out National Library Week, with feelings of immense gratitude for our community, let us then turn to a little poetry.
While the blog will be bringing many poems your way this month (and beyond), perhaps you need a daily dose? The Academy of American Poets offers a daily poem via email subscription or on their website, a selection that is curated monthly by a different guest editor. This month's set of poems has been picked by the Poetry Foundation's Young People's Poet Laureate Naomi Shihab Nye, whose work you can find on our shelves. As Nye herself says in a press release by the Academy, "It's been my continual joy to share poems with other people—hopefully, poems that might move or transport them—so doing it with this wide audience, at this moment in history, feels especially touching. Poetry respects and uplifts. Poetry tends to the small and necessary elements of experience and observation that might have gone unnoticed." Below, you can find two of Naomi Shihab Nye's poems that specifically address the possibilities of both libraries and poetry: "Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things" and "Every day as a wide field, a page, every page." Thank you for your support in keeping our doors open and our shelves stocked with words, with pages, with poems.
Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things
She is holding the book close to her body, carrying it home on the cracked sidewalk, down the tangled hill. If a dog runs at her again, she will use the book as a shield.
She looked hard among the long lines of books to find this one. When they start talking about money, when the day contains such long and hot places, she will go inside. An orange bed is waiting. Story without corners. She will have two families. They will eat at different hours.
She is carrying a book past the fire station and the five and dime.
What this town has not given her the book will provide; a sheep, a wilderness of new solutions. The book has already lived through its troubles. The book has a calm cover, a straight spine.
When the step returns to itself, as the best place for sitting, and the old men up and down the street are latching their clippers,
she will not be alone. She will have a book to open and open and open. Her life starts here.
- Naomi Shihab Nye
From Fuel: Poems
Every day as a wide field, a page, every page
Standing outside staring at a tree gentles our eyes
We cheer to see fireflies winking again Where have our friends been all the long hours? Minds stretching beyond the field become their own skies Windows doors grow more important Look through a word swing that sentence wide open Kneeling outside to find sturdy green glistening blossoms under the breeze that carries us silently 2 And there were so many more poems to read! Countless friends to listen to. We didn’t have to be in the same room— the great modern magic. Everywhere together now. Even scared together now from all points of the globe which lessened it somehow. Hopeful together too, exchanging winks in the dark, the little lights blinking. When your hope shrinks you might feel the hope of someone far away lifting you up. Hope is the thing ... Hope was always the thing! What else did we give each other from such distances? Breath of syllables, sing to me from your balcony please! Befriend me in the deep space. When you paused for a poem it could reshape the day
- Naomi Shihab Nye
From Poetry, March 2021