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'Transfer' -- Naomi Shihab Nye's 'most powerful to date'

Transfer_2_smaller Naomi Shihab Nye, called "one of the most spirited voices in American poetry" by The Philadelphia Inquirer, is consistently in the headlines for her newest collection of poetry, Transfer. While she has been best known for her poetry collections Fuel, You and Yours,  and an extensive list of other writings, The Philadelphia Inquirer calls Transfer (published by BOA in 2011) "her most powerful to date." Reviewer Thomas Devaney calls the collection an ongoing elegy, which draws on her Palestinian-American heritage to "[chart] three central journeys: the journey of her father’s life in exile in America, the journey of his death, and the ever-revelatory journey of Nye’s relationship with her father." In Devaney's sharp analysis of Nye's poetry, he considers Transfer as a kind of writing that extends beyond all of her other works: a metaphor of transfer, "not a destination, but an unsettled state of being," which requires "elegy, stories, documents, odes, translations, and history to reveal the forces and mysteries that shape a life." He likens her most powerful poems to "embodiments" of Darwish's “the presence of absence,” rather than merely expressions of loss, and uses as his example Nye's poem "Ringing": "I’m sorry you lost your father, people say and I step outside to soak in stripes of gray cloud. Hand touches iron rail. You needed it, I don’t. .............................................. Maybe the right wind brings a scent of smoldering twigs, fresh water over stone. Maybe tonight your laughter carpets our rooms. I keep finding you in ways you didn’t know I noticed, or knew." This poem, a work of mourning yet dancing with life, is an example of how her poems "engage with what is there as much as what is not." Read the intriguing review here. Don't have Transfer on your bookshelf yet? Get it here.

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