David Reads “The Shape of Mouths at Parties,” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another long day, and aside from the joy of coming home to my husband (to-be), and the purring ministrations of our cat Milton, a late dinner and a glass of a lovely Argentinian blend (Cab-Malbec-Syrah), it is again poetry that soothes my soul, and calms me down.

Like last night’s, this post, and possibly tomorrow’s will be on the short side, but I’ve been reading more and more by today’s poet lately, and I will likely read something more by her before Poetry Month is over.

She and I share a common hero in William Stafford, and of her Stafford has said,

In the current literary scene, one of the most heartening influences is the work of Naomi Shihab Nye. Her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.

Nye has written, and or edited numerous volumes of poetry, and has even written songs and books for children and young adults.  She was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2010. Most recently she was the winner of the Robert Creeley Award. Since I must keep commentary short tonight, I will direct you to a lovely in-depth write up on her at the Poetry Foundation.

Here is my reading for Day 13 of National Poetry Month, “The Shape of Mouths at Parites,” by Naomi Shahib Nye.

The Shapes of Mouths at Parties

A mouth like a hammer
pounding out its own tale.
Sometimes I float among the mouths
carrying my own like an unpicked plum.
The man who tells about crashing in an airplane
does not need my “Oh really?” for his story to go on.
As if we were standing at some coast,
things continue without our help,
the predictable waves, the smooth-backed shells,
and the mouths like jellyfish swelling…
As if the mouth were the opening
most suited to knowledge and communication,
more than the weightless eye,
landing carefully on each occupied chair,
the fluent nose, vibrantly awake
before the mouth names what it is eating,
or the hand, the articulate hand,
which comes undressed to every party,
opens easily to receive wine or cake,
and secretly converses with the rug, the dog, the air.

-Naomi Shihab Nye
From Hugging the Jukebox (Dutton, 1982)

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on Susan Daniels Poetry and commented:
    David has been reading a poem a day for national poetry month–and this was so GORGEOUS, I need to share it.


  2. Kelvin S.M. says:

    …what a beautiful observation and a wonderful share David…. how one can easily notice the gesture of our lips rather than the tales it produced…. normally in parties… i preferred to be an unseen guest finding contentment on how the other guests would act — sort of finding truth in ’em…. thanks for reading & sharing her poem today… enjoyed it… smiles…


  3. Jamie Dedes says:

    Well done. She’s a fave of mine.

    Thanks for linking to mine.


    1. Thank you, Jamie, and it was my pleasure.


  4. slpmartin says:

    Really a fine ready of this wonderful poem.


    1. Thank you so much, Charles.


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