Naomi Shihab Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother and grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her experiences traveling in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity.
Nye is the author of numerous books of poems, most recently Cast Away: Poems for Our Time (Greenwillow Books, 2020). Her other books of poetry include The Tiny Journalist (BOA Editions, 2019); Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners (Greenwillow Books, 2018); Transfer (BOA Editions, 2011); You and Yours (BOA Editions, 2005), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award; and 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (Greenwillow Books, 2002), a collection of new and selected poems about the Middle East. She is also the author of many books of poetry and fiction for children, including Habibi (Simon Pulse, 1997), for which she received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award in 1998.
Nye’s additional honors include awards from the International Poetry Forum and the Texas Institute of Letters, the Carity Randall Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement Award, and four Pushcart Prizes. She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow. In 1988, she received the Academy of American Poets’ Lavan Award, judged by W. S. Merwin.
Honorary degrees at VCFA are awarded for the purpose of recognizing those who have made profound and enduring contributions to the arts, scholarship, and culture, and whose work, character, and contributions to the arts reflect our values as an institution.
“Nye is an artist in the truest sense of the word – one who understands the critical role creative expression plays in providing connection in a time of increasing loneliness, as well as spaciousness for curiosity and understanding among people across vast differences,” says VCFA President Leslie Ward. “Nye’s poetry, essays, and stories have done both for so many individuals in our world.”
VCFA will welcome Naomi Shihab Nye at the Summer 2023 Residency on the campus of Colorado College. Nye’s engagement will include participating in a panel discussion, “Imagined Futures: On Art + Social Change” hosted by VCFA’s Center for Arts + Social Justice and community conversations with VCFA’s writing programs. The Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters will be bestowed to Nye at a college-wide commencement ceremony on July 29, 2023.