The Works from Naomi Shihab Nye’s Workshop

 

by Anya Razmi and Diana Malkin

Anya: We were part of Naomi Shihab Nye’s workshop. Typically, I don’t like writing from prompts, but I really appreciated how open-ended hers were. In this poem, we were asked to write about a memory or something connected to our present selves to our past selves.

eleven years ago 

there is a little girl

trembling 

on a creaking metal dragon

 

eleven years ago

she clings to her sister’s chubby fingers

listens to the steel 

roar

 

i want to cradle her

     in my arms

i want to rock her

across my sandy shores

 

eleven years ago

tears coat her face like melted popsicles 

sticky

and

aching

she thinks the ride is too big,

too loud,

                       that the world does not belong 

to her yet.

 

i want to tell her

it’s not so bad

i want to tell her

the world is filled with metal dragons,

with roaring steel 

 

i want to show her 

it’s not so bad

being smaller

than your shadow

 

eleven years ago,

the dragon drops

and her heart leaps 

to her stomach

 

 

i want to tell her

she’ll feel the same thing

a thousand times

before realizing 

it’s not so bad

to let your ribcage crumble,

and your heartbeat quake.

 

it’s not so bad

to feel life’s sweeping roar

and let your body go,

 

let it go,

 

let it go.

 

Diana: A little while ago, Anya and I went to Naomi Shihab Nye’s writing workshop. It was truly amazing. I loved sharing our work and hearing everyone’s poem. They spoke about their favorite paintings at the art museum to the story of their parents meeting in college for the first time. Everyone had something to add and it was a joy hearing about everyone’s experiences. It was a very accepting and caring environment. Hearing Naomi’s advice was incredibly helpful, because she had inspiring ideas and encouraged everyone to write and share.

 

Some of the activities we did were:

  • Random question flow
  • Writing about something that mattered to us
  • Childhood story
  • A group poem
  • Using three words per line (or a “ power poem”)

 

My poem is called Voice. It is about speaking out.

 

You wonder loudly

But whisper doubt.

Your voice trembles

And twists alone.

You see light

And reach deep.

You smooth ground

And shattered cracks.

So speak dearest.

Share your wonder.

 

Overall, Naomi’s workshop was spectacular. She gave insightful advice and taught us to reach deep and share our emotions. I loved receiving feedback from a professional. It is so important to share your writing and hear other people’s recommendations. I did not have the most confidence in my poems, but after hearing everyone’s thoughts, it was significantly easier sharing my work. By the end of the day, I felt enlightened and like a new writer. If you ever have a chance to go to the Writing Workshop, please do (it is definitely worth it)! I hope these poems inspire and motivate you to write about anything that interest you!