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Mrs. Marjorie Ransom introduces Mrs. Naomi Shihab Nye, ATFP Honoree for Excellence in the Arts, at the ATFP Fifth Annual Gala, Washington, D.C., October 20, 2010.


I want to thank the American Task Force for Palestine for this opportunity to introduce my dear friend , the renowned poet Naomi Shihab Nye, who will give a poetry recital at the Folger Shakespeare Library on April 11, 2011. 

Naomi’s honors and accomplishments are legend.  But what makes her so special to me is that she is our family’s poet.   We first met in 1982.  I was intrigued by the announcement of her program and I took my three teen-aged daughters -- kicking and screaming -- to their first poetry recital, which she gave at the Barns at Wolf Trap.

The beauty of Naomi’s writing is that it has layers of meaning and thus appeals to all ages.   The girls were bowled over when they heard her read and sing her poems and her poetry became standard fare for our family. 

Our relationship grew stronger when Naomi and her husband Michael came to Abu Dhabi in 1984, where I was the U.S. Cultural Attaché seeking ways to establish cultural bonds with that young nation.  I never could have imagined what an impact she would have.  In Abu Dhabi at the new UAE cultural center, in the women’s section of the UAE University in Al Ain and finally at Dubai TV she wowed them.  She was a UAE media star over night.

On my sixtieth birthday my husband David and three daughters gave me a collection of Naomi’s poems, Words Under the Words, and he and each daughter inscribed a poem to me.  I read from one of those, “You Know Who You Are.”

Why do your poems comfort me,  I ask myself.
Because they are upright, like straight-backed chairs.
I can sit in them and study the world as if it too
were simple and upright.

Because sometimes I live in a hurricane of words
And not one of them can save me.
Your poems come in like a raft, logs tied together, they float.
I give you Naomi Shihab Nye.

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