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The Tiny Journalist wins TIL Best Book of Poetry Award

Rochester, N.Y. — BOA Editions is delighted to announce that The Tiny Journalist by Naomi Shihab Nye has won the 2020 Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for Best Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters. The Texas Institute of Letters (TIL) announced the winners of this year’s TIL Literary Awards this morning via press release.

TIL President Carmen Tafolla is especially proud of the “quality and the diversity of this year’s award-winners, which range from teachers to journalists to an astronaut, reflecting some of the exciting variety in authors’ experiences, styles, themes, and genres.”

The Tiny Journalist is Naomi Shihab Nye’s fifth poetry collection from BOA Editions. It was named a Best Poetry Book of 2019 by The Washington Post. The collection is inspired by the story of Janna Jihad Ayyad, the “Youngest Journalist in Palestine,” who at age 7 began capturing videos of anti-occupation protests using her mother’s smartphone. Nye draws upon her own family’s roots in a West Bank village near Janna’s hometown to offer empathy and insight to the young girl’s reporting. Long an advocate for peaceful communication across all boundaries, Nye’s poems in The Tiny Journalist put a human face on war and the violence that divides us from each other.

Naomi Shihab Nye is the author and/or editor of more than thirty books, including five collections of poetry from BOA Editions: Red Suitcase (1994), Fuel (1998), You & Yours (2005), Transfer (2011), and The Tiny Journalist (2019). She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow and a Witter Bynner Fellow. Her numerous awards include a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award from BOA, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Patterson Poetry Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, the Robert Creeley Prize the Betty Prize from Poets House for her service to poetry, and the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Texas Institute of Letters. She served on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets from 2010–2015, and in May 2019 she was named the 2019–2021 Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

The Texas Institute of Letters is a nonprofit Honor Society founded in 1936 to celebrate Texas literature and recognize distinctive literary achievement. The TIL’s elected membership consists of the state’s most respected writers—including winners of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and MacArthur “Genius” Grants.

Each year, TIL awards more than $24,000 to recognize outstanding literary works by authors who were born in Texas or have lived in Texas for at least five consecutive years at some time. Works with subject matter that substantially concerns Texas are also eligible. The 2020 TIL Literary Awards were given in 12 categories, including poetry, debut poetry, fiction, debut fiction, nonfiction, short fiction, and short nonfiction.

Winners of the 2020 TIL Literary Awards will be celebrated at the annual TIL Awards Banquet, which is scheduled to take place March 28, 2020 at the Georgetown Sheraton. For more information on the TIL or on attending this spring’s awards Banquet, contact or visit

Congratulations, Naomi!

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