Watching Naomi

In her poem "Famous," Naomi Shihab Nye writes: "I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous/Or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular/But because it never forgot what it could do." Incidentally, it's this knack for finding beauty in the ordinary that makes Nye's work nothing short of spectacular. And who could forget that? From the man and his special auction hat in "The Hat" to the forgotten honor of the onion in "The Traveling Onion," Nye's subjects are simple and seemingly insignificant, yet they show us things about our world that are undeniably complex. In "The World in Translation," for example, common fruits provide lessons for the self: "Through these she would learn secrets of dying/How to do it gracefully as the peach/Softening in silence/Or the mango, finely tuned to its own skin." Simple words about simple subjects strung together with the utmost care. If Nye is following the age-old advice "write what you know," then she is an expert on the everyday and all of its glory. As part of the Claire Rich Lecture Series, Nye will read her poetry in the Jonsson Performance Hall at the University of Texas at Dallas at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Admission is free. Call 972-UTD-ARTS or visit
Wed., Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m.
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Rhonda Reinhart