The Tiny Journalist

The Tiny Journalist

Internationally beloved poet Naomi Shihab Nye places her Palestinian American identity center stage in her latest full-length poetry collection for adults. The collection is inspired by the story of Janna Tamimi, the "Youngest Journalist in Palestine," who at age 7 began capturing videos of anti-occupation protests using her mother's smartphone. Nye draws upon her own fami...

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Title:The Tiny Journalist
Author:Naomi Shihab Nye
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Edition Language:English

The Tiny Journalist Reviews

  • Lone Star Literary Life

    Reviewed by Natalia Trevino for

    .

    With a wide-angle lens taking in the tumultuous landscape that braids the personal and the political, the land and the language, and the kind child she insists is in every one of us, National Book Award Finalist, poet, and Texas treasure, Naomi Shihab Nye writes “only children / would ever find the key.” Dedicated to Janna Jihad Ayyad (born 2006), who at seven years old began reporting injustices in her village on the West Bank of Palestine

    Reviewed by Natalia Trevin᷃o for

    .

    With a wide-angle lens taking in the tumultuous landscape that braids the personal and the political, the land and the language, and the kind child she insists is in every one of us, National Book Award Finalist, poet, and Texas treasure, Naomi Shihab Nye writes “only children / would ever find the key.” Dedicated to Janna Jihad Ayyad (born 2006), who at seven years old began reporting injustices in her village on the West Bank of Palestine, The Tiny Journalist sings to chronicle Janna’s journey in clear, concise, and cutting free verse.

    Nye admits joining Facebook just so she could follow Janna, writing that these poems “are ‘my’ words, imagining Janna’s circumstances.” In the first section of the book, we meet the journalist through several persona poems: “We would like the babies not to find out about/ the failures waiting for them,” the checkpoints, the “bulldozers/ crushing houses/schoolrooms,” never knowing “what it would feel like, not having guns pointed at us.”

    Because of her own experience in Palestine during the late sixties, Nye mines her own childhood memories of the beauty she misses with interspersed offerings of mint, fig pencils, and lemons to help place the reader both in the scene and in the honest clarity of a child’s obvious questions, rendering intense emotional weight: “When Facebook says I have “followers”—/ I hope they know I need their help,” by telling Netanyahu, “You don’t need a stethoscope/ to imagine a heartbeat.” She worries about little-known human rights cases, making us question if we are complicit: “We should all be concerned about Mohammed Zayed,//No details on his new arrest.”

    In the second section of the book, the adult voice appears, interlacing pastoral scenes from Syria, Yemen, Guangzhou, Wales, Australia, Qatar, and many others places while including global reactions to the U.S. 2016 election: “an Australian librarian / would pass me a note, WTF?” Attentive to language, wholeness, and hope, these poems also redefine the scope of empty and politicized words. One poem alerts the reader: “You Are Your Own State Department.” “Each day,” a girl assures the speaker,” slip[s] its blank visa into our hands.” We learn that “superpower” is the gift of “retaining imagination/ in worse days.”

    In this chorus of speakers blended with her own voice, Nye includes much needed encouragement for a person like Janna, who is willing to take a stand in the voice of an old journalist: “I see you stand, hands up, saying/ Move back! to the ones with guns./ This was never easy for me to do.” Reminding the reader that all Palestinians are “also Semites” and that being “pro-justice for Palestinians is never an anti-Semitic position,” this poet delivers news-worthy journalistic headlines of her own about those who have lived through the occupation, recounting that “we had to become heroes to survive at all.” If only we knew all of those stories.

    This book is more than a book of poems. It is a call for awakening.

  • Meg

    Naomi Shahib Nye's newest book of poetry (2019) brings the reader into the world of humanistic writing! Naomi uses her background with memories of her Palestinian father, her time living in Jordan and Palestine as a teen, and her study of the child, Janna, who has made videos of life in Palestine with a cell phone, to create this book of poetry and prose. From the moment one begins to read the book, the reader is compelled to become a resident of Palestine, to feel what the residents feel, and t

    Naomi Shahib Nye's newest book of poetry (2019) brings the reader into the world of humanistic writing! Naomi uses her background with memories of her Palestinian father, her time living in Jordan and Palestine as a teen, and her study of the child, Janna, who has made videos of life in Palestine with a cell phone, to create this book of poetry and prose. From the moment one begins to read the book, the reader is compelled to become a resident of Palestine, to feel what the residents feel, and to suffer what they have suffered. Throughout the book, Naomi asks why we do not talk to each other during conflicts and why bombs and guns seem to be the answer to territory disputes. For example, she writes: "No Explosions" " To enjoy fireworks you would have to have lived a different kind of life" (62). Through reading the shorter and longer selections, one is stuck about how wisely the writer of this book has created a space for thought and further reflection. Written for young people and adults, ages 9+, this is a book of poems to be read again and again. Highly recommended, written by one of the premier posts living today! I could say much more but I want to go and read the book all over again...

  • John Dineen

    Ms. Nye delivers a devastatingly poignant portrait of the type of behavior that led Robert Burns to observe that nothing is quite so human as man's inhumanity to his fellow man. I look forward with great anticipation to future works.

  • Misha

    I have been reading Naomi Shihab Nye since high school. She has been writing of the plight and the humanity of Palestinians in all of her work, while this collection squarely rests with "the world's largest open-air prison." Nye also points out that Palestinians are also Semites, so being pro-justice for Palestinians is "never an anti-Semitic position, no matter what anybody says." These poems are simple but expressive of pain, oppression, joy and hope.

    From "Netanyahu"

    What does it mean when one

    I have been reading Naomi Shihab Nye since high school. She has been writing of the plight and the humanity of Palestinians in all of her work, while this collection squarely rests with "the world's largest open-air prison." Nye also points out that Palestinians are also Semites, so being pro-justice for Palestinians is "never an anti-Semitic position, no matter what anybody says." These poems are simple but expressive of pain, oppression, joy and hope.

    From "Netanyahu"

    What does it mean when one person thinks

    others deserve nothing?

    What is that called?

    From "My Wisdom"

    When people have a lot

    they want more

    When people have nothing

    they will happily share it

    *

    Some people say

    never getting your way

    builds character

    By now our character must be

    deep and wide as a continent

    Africa, Australia

    giant cascade of stars

    spilling over our huge night

    From "Better Vision":

    People think of us differently.

    We may be in prison, but we still love beauty.

    We may be oppressed, but we are smart.

    We may think we don't need glasses, but the big E

    for equality has been lying on its back

    for a long time now

    kicking its legs in the air like an animal

    that needs help to get up.

  • Lynsy • Little Book Jockey

    I should add an "emotions" category to my rating system for poetry. Did this make me cry? Yes. Read my full review

    .

  • Stephen Byrne

    Delightful beautiful work by Naomi Shihab Nye.

  • Roger DeBlanck

    Naomi Shihab Nye’s impressive body of work, whether for adults or children, has always echoed a vision of our collective humanism while also confronting the forces of injustice. With the poems in

    , she returns to her Palestinian heritage and fuses together verses that reflect the real life story of a young Palestinian girl named Janna acting as a journalist and taking pictures of her people’s suffering. Nye lends her own voice to the girl’s story in order to give the Palestini

    Naomi Shihab Nye’s impressive body of work, whether for adults or children, has always echoed a vision of our collective humanism while also confronting the forces of injustice. With the poems in

    , she returns to her Palestinian heritage and fuses together verses that reflect the real life story of a young Palestinian girl named Janna acting as a journalist and taking pictures of her people’s suffering. Nye lends her own voice to the girl’s story in order to give the Palestinian people their much deserved humanity.

    may not offer the best poetic work of Nye’s career, but it absolutely achieves the vital purpose of showing the despair and oppression under which the Palestinians have suffered since the establishment of Israel in 1948. Her focus is not to condemn Israel, but instead to remind the Israelis of the longstanding pain of the Palestinian people who want nothing more than to be treated as equals and given the opportunity to live productive lives alongside their Israeli brothers and sisters. Indeed, Nye highlights how coexistence has always been the dream of the Palestinians. Only the hardhearted mistrust over the years has placed the holy land in its ongoing state of unrest. Hoping for a recognition of their humanity, Palestinians yearn for a future with peace.

    In constructing the poetic voice in

    , Nye utilizes a very prose-like structure and the impact is striking in its simplicity, allowing the poems to read like lightning declarations. Here are a few of the lines I highlighted throughout the book:

    From “Morning Song”: They came at night with weapons. // What was our crime? That we liked / respect as they do? That we have pride?

    From “Janna”: We’re living in the middle of trouble. / No reason not to say it straight. / They do not consider us equal. / They blame us for everything, / forgetting what they took, / how they took it.

    From “Separation Wall”: I always feel like a normal person. // They just don’t see me as one. / We would like the babies not to find out about // the failures waiting for them.

    From “Losing as Its Own Flower”: The ancestors would be ashamed / if we gave up. The invaders said our land / was barren and sad. / They said we were anti-Semitic. / But we were Semites too.

    From “America Gives Israel Ten Million Dollar a Day”: Who you are, exactly, or what you have been doing / all these years appears to be of little interest to Israeli / authorities when they jail you. It could be nothing. / It could be a word in a poem. Or the hand of a girl / slapping a soldier who just shot her cousin.

    Also from “America Gives Israel Ten Million Dollar a Day”: I asked a rabbi demonstrating against us / if his people could imagine our sorrows. / Could they just hold their own thoughts for a moment / and imagine what we feel like? / He was quiet, staring at me.

    From “The Space We’re In”: I’m not sure about a country being great / I don’t know what that means / It sounds like bragging or more weapons / I want a country to be nice to all people

  • Mark

    "Her voice a library of kindness.

    I hear pages rustling, hungry fingers

    moving through stories. If you very alone,

    you would want this voice to find you."

    ^ I enjoyed this collection of poetry. Many gems to be discovered.

  • Kara Kvasnicka

    Nye, as usual, does a wonderful job of showing how much all of us humans have in common with one another despite our religious and cultural differences and an even better job of portraying the tragic consequences of our not being able to do so. You may not wish to remember the haunting stories each of the poems in this collection tell of direct effect of the never-ending battle for control of their homeland on Palestinians, but the quality of Nye's writing will ensure they will.

  • Tatiana

    For me, the above line describes Naomi Shihab Nye as a poet, acting as bridge between countries, religions, and long-held beliefs. The Israeli-Pakistan(-U.S.) conflict is no easy topic to mediate, yet Nye has the unique ability to do so, with her Palestinian heritage and youth spent in Jerusalem and Ramalla

    For me, the above line describes Naomi Shihab Nye as a poet, acting as bridge between countries, religions, and long-held beliefs. The Israeli-Pakistan(-U.S.) conflict is no easy topic to mediate, yet Nye has the unique ability to do so, with her Palestinian heritage and youth spent in Jerusalem and Ramallah.

    In my opinion, the poems in

    do their job, giving voice to Palestinians who feel displaced by the state of Israel. Though Nye advocates for "communication across all boundaries," ultimately that is her stance, even if she claims "being pro-justice for Palestinians is never an anti-Semetic position." I'd love to have the opportunity to ask how she envisions the newly constructed boundaries of peace should the wall come down.

    Concerning the poetry itself, there's no denying Nye is and has always been more concerned with content and "messages." Sometimes I feel that detracts from the language itself, and sometimes I am swept away with a single line.

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