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Poet Naomi Shihab Nye to Visit Campus in April
frederica rockwood 11 features editor
February 25, 2010

Poet, anthologist, and lecturer Naomi Shihab Nye will visit campus for three days beginning April 7. A close friend of Katie Flato P’10, ’12, Ms. Nye has Palestinian heritage that shines through in her work. Much of her work, such as 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, speaks of the Middle East and the issues facing the region.

During her three-day visit, Ms. Nye will meet with the English Department and students. “We’re trying to make it an experience that reaches out to both the English classes and history classes,” said Hannah Flato ’10. Ms. Nye can speak not only about what it takes to become a successful writer, but also about centuries-old struggles.

Arabic Teacher Samar Moushabeck is also optimistic about the poet’s visit. “I want to broaden the horizons of my students so they can know what’s out there,” said Ms. Moushabeck.

Ms. Nye is a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow. Her children’s books have won many awards including an Arab American Book Award. She was recently elected as a chancellor to the Academy of American Poets.

“Because she has spent a lot of time back in Palestine, she has become an ardent advocate for the Palestinian people,” said English Teacher John Palmer. Ms. Nye strives to break down Arab and Muslim stereotypes that degrade the proud people.

Ms. Nye currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, where she came to know Katie Flato, the mother of Hannah and Malou Flato ’12.

Mrs. Flato finds event speakers for the San Antonio Library Foundation, so it was natural for her to suggest a speaker for Deerfield. Ms. Nye is often in the New England area to give lectures at various colleges. Mrs. Flato and Hannah began to speak to Ms. Nye over a year ago about coming to the Academy, and the momentum quickly began to build.