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Reading Naomi Shihab Nye's "Kindness"A Practice for the Anniversary of 9/11
By Roger Housden
"Poetry humanizes us in a way that news, or even religion, has a harder time doing," Naomi Shihab Nye wrote in her email response to the 9/11 tragedy. With its unique ability to capture the significance of what the ordinary imagination cannot grasp, poetry took on a heightened value for the culture during those dark weeks. Poems circulated all over the Internet. Nye's poem "Kindness" was sent to me soon after September 11. Reading poetry like this is a spiritual practice.
In this rending yet redemptive poem, Nye reaches down to the roots of our humanity, which lie in the great heart where we all cry together. Nye, an Arab American, has been writing poetry since she was five. She has published six books of poetry and several children's books. Born of a Palestinian father and an American mother, she has lived her life between those two cultures."
Before you know what kindness really is
Excerpted from Ten Poems to Open Your Heart by Roger Housden. "Kindness" from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye.