A Poet in Metaphors

Recently, I have been studying the work and life of Naomi Shihab Nye, an American-Palestinian poet. I have grown to love this poet as well as her writing, and my hope is that out of this post, you will be able to get a sense of who she is and how she writes. The following list is comprised of metaphors capturing what I think key aspects of Nye’s works and personality are.

1. Plant:

Climbing vine. Every word in Shihab Nye’s poetry is marked with intentionality and has the aim of finding connections between people of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, and parts of the world just like how a climbing vine is a assortment of different strands (what are individual pieces of vines called?), all interlocked as one.

2.  Color

Indigo. Shihab Nye loves variety in people, in ideas, and in scenery, which can be seen in the wide array of themes that her poems cover, demonstrating her respect and contemplation of variety. She embraces mixtures, similar to how indigo is an embrace of the mixture created by blue and violet.

3. Fragrance

Reminiscent of comfort, home, and simplicity, Shihab Nye is the smell of vanilla- warm and inviting tones infuse her work.

4. Architecture

Naomi Shihab Nye is the Taj Mahal. Her intense devotion and passion to her beliefs, as well as to her occupation is not only evident in her poetry, but in the organizations she supports and in her interactions with people- much like how the Taj Mahal embodies the pure commitment and love that its commissioner held toward his wife.

5. Word

In her work, Shihab Nye reforms ordinary items, actions, and people into symbols of significance and shares her desire to re-discover humanity. She is reclamation.

6. Decade

Naomi Shihab Nye- inspired by the belief that we should seek beauty and enjoyment in life, seeing it for all its vibrancy,texture, and meaning- is the 70s: colorful bell-bottoms, shimmering disco-balls, tie-dye headbands, mood rings, jackets with fringes.

7. Game

Tug of war. The two heritages present within her- Arab and American- are like two warring sides, given all the conflict between them. Although Shihab Nye writes about conflict among others, the fact is that conflict presides within her. Both sides push and pull and she doesn’t know which she should identify with the most.

8. Romantic Gesture 

A lover of pause, reflection, and careful analysis of her environment, Shihab Nye is a moonlight stroll. “Poetry calls us to pause. There is so much we overlook, while the abundance around us continues to shimmer, on its own.”- Naomi Shihab Nye.  

9. Natural Phenomenon

Naomi Shihab Nye is a hurricane. She rages for change through her actions and words (the violent winds and waters of a hurricane),  yet is peaceful at heart ( the eye of a hurricane).

10. Article of Clothing 

Lingerie. Shihab Nye’s poems create an intimate connection with the reader. Additionally, she is has no reservations toward laying her life out for others to see.

11. Age Group

Child. Much of Shihab Nye’s work  is often described as imaginative, playful, and daring.

12. Dessert

Her work adopts simple diction, an interesting contrast to the complex and deep meaning woven throughout the lines of her poetry. Shihab Nye is tiramisu– simple yet underscored by layers of flavor, meaning, and depth.

13. Hobby

Naomi Shihab Nye is an antiques connoisseur– she appreciates history, views it as a part of who she is, and makes its presence known throughout her work.

14. Type of Conversation

A ranting session between close friends. Shihab Nye’s thoughts, sorrows, joys, and passion for change are poured out in pages through her work, similar to the cascade of words exchanged between friends in discourse. The reader quickly becomes a confidant to Shihab Nye, a person privy to her conflicts and views.

15. Literary Character

If Naomi Shihab Nye was a literary character, she would be Nancy Drew. Throughout her work, Shihab Nye searches tirelessly for connections between the past and the present, the relationship between culture and identity. She works to solve the mysteries of strained relations as well as the odd tensions that infuse her writing.



*You can’t deNye the power of poetry (hehe 🙂 )


  1. aashka98 · February 28, 2016

    Angel, so it turned out we are doing the same writer. I actually got inspired by your post because it made me see Nye from another perspective and also helped me in further understanding her writing. I enjoyed reading your post and comparing it to mine, and I am always excited to read about the same things but just from different views. I loved how you got creative with the metaphors especially about the “Romantic Gestures’, I don’t think anyone would have come with that metaphor. The way you integrated a quote further strengthened your comparison and made it easier for the reader to understand. You describe every comparison very carefully and concisely so the reader is able to understand and visualize it. To improve I would say that maybe you could have offered some examples maybe if you felt that your claim was not strong enough or your comparison. Even though you are not asked to in the prompt, otherwise very well done.


  2. Reid Carpenter · March 6, 2016

    Hey Angel, nice job with this blog. I really did love to read your metaphors and meet your author through them. You make Nye accessible and familiar to your reader.
    One very small suggestion: the formatting of this post makes it a bit difficult to read. I get kind of confused by things bolded and the spacing. That is very small, but it may help your readers enjoy writing even more.
    Otherwise, very well done.


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