Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sifter #poetryFriday

Welcome to Poetry Friday and my little corner of the world!  This is my first time hosting, and I appreciate you stopping by to share your bit of poetry with all of us.

My last Donor's Choose project was a collection of poetry books.  Some were old, some were new, but all revolved around the teenage years.  Today I share with you some thoughts and words from from Naomi Shihab Nye in her book, A Maze Me.

In the introduction to this book, Naomi shares her worry about becoming a teenager and wanting to hang on to childhood just a little bit longer.   In one part she talks about not remembering "the name of a single junior high school teacher."  Yet she could name every elementary teacher and most of her high school teachers.  She asks, "What happened in between?"

Naomi says when she turned seventeen, "I started feeling as if my soul fit my age again, or my body had grown to fit my brain.  When she was in college, she met Nellie Lucas, an eccentric women, who taught Naomi to "slow down and to pay better attention to everything" and to have faith about "growing up."

One of the best pieces of advice I found for want-to-be writers is, "If you write three lines down in a notebook every day (they don't have to be important, they don't have to relate to one another, you don't have to show them to anyone) will find out what you notice.  Uncanny connections will be made visible to you.  That's what I started learning when I was twelve, and I never stopped learning it."

She compares growing up as "Every year unfolds like a petal inside all the years that preceded it.  You will feel your thinking springing up and layering inside your huge mind a little differently.  Your thinking will befriend you.  Words will befriend you.  You will be given more than you could ever dream."

What follows these wise words, is a collection of 72 poems. Below is my favorite.

~Naomi Shihab Nye

When our English teacher gave
our first writing assignment of the year,
become a kitchen implement
in 2 descriptive paragraphs, I did not think
butcher knife or frying pan,
I thought immediately 
of soft flour showering through the little holes
of the sifter and the sifter's pleasing circular
swishing sound, and wrote it down.
Rhoda became a teaspoon,
Roberto a funnel,
Jim a muffin tin
and Forrest a soup pot.
We read our paragraphs out loud.
Abby was a blender.  Everyone laughed
and acted giddy but the more we thought about it, 
we were all everything in the whole kitchen,
drawers and drainers,
singing teapot and and grapefruit spoon
with serrated edges, we were all the 
empty cup, the tray.
This, said our teacher, is the beauty of metaphor.
It opens doors.
What I could not know then was how being a sifter
would help me all year long.
When bad days came
I would close my eyes and feel them passing
through the tiny holes.
When good days came
I would try to contain them gently
the way flour remains
in the sifter until you turn the handle.
Time, time. I was a sweet sifter in time
and no one ever knew.

Shihab Nye, Naomi. "A Maze Me: Poems for Girls." Harper Collins Publishers:  New York, NY. 2005.

May we all become sifters.  
Thank you for visiting today, and please share your link below.


  1. I'd not seen this poem before - and am so glad you shared it! So thoughtful and profound. And thank you for hosting, by the way! (My link goes live shortly after midnight)

  2. Beautiful poem. Love her fresh perspective! Thanks for hosting :-)

  3. What a great poem for teens. I'm grabbing that one to keep. Thank you! Poetry Friday always gives me more ideas than I have time to play with them. Last week, Kat Apel shared some Tetractys poems with us ... and I knew I had to give that form a whirl. Fortunately, the form helped me express some of my thoughts on the creepy and the spooky for Michelle Barns' DMC challenge. Fun! Thanks for hosting Poetry Friday.

  4. Thanks so much for jumping in to host, Leigh Anne! And what a wonderful poem (& backstory) to share. I didn't know this poem either, but Naomi Shihab Nye's words and images always stay with me a good little while, like flour on fingertips.

  5. (PS - forgot to put in the description in the link list, but my post has a GIVEAWAY of Amy's new, wonderful book by Heinemann!)

  6. Thank you for hosting and for sharing the wonderful poem. I have a seven-year-old who is already showing trepidation for growing up. She loves to cook with me, so I may use the sifter metaphor the next time we're baking.

  7. Thanks for sharing this powerful yet delicate poem with us all Leigh Anne, I love the closing lines,
    "Time, time. I was a sweet sifter in time
    and no one ever knew."

    Her book sounds wonderful too, one I definitely want to read, and probably reread. Your blog post and her poem have a calming affect, slowing down–so few things invite us to do that today. Thanks for all here, and for hosting the round up too!

  8. Enjoy your week playing host, Leigh Anne. And thank-you for sharing this lovely poem. It is one to savour and reread, for sure!

    I can't get the link thing to open - so I can't post my link, or gather others. (I think it has issues with me being in Australia, so don't stress about it, Leigh Ann.) I'll try to make my way through the rounds from the comments. :) If someone wants to post my link for me, it would be appreciated. I'm singing in the rain... and (unexpectedly) on billboards.

  9. Looks like we're on the same wavelength, Leigh Ann, since I just finished re-reading this book! It's wonderful, isn't it? And "Sifter" is one of my favorites too. Thanks for hosting Poetry Friday this week! It's definitely a lot to visit everyone, but so rewarding.

  10. Thanks for sharing this poem. What a wonderful metaphor for life! I'm going to be a sifter from now on. Like Kat, I can't view the Widget (am also in Australia and think that the interweb doesn't let us see the linkz), so my link is here: And I will try to get around to as many other posts as I can find without the widget.

  11. Thank you for hosting today, Leigh Ann! Naomi Shihab Nye is so brilliant. I love the idea of letting good days gently accumulate and feeling bad days "passing/through the tiny holes" of a sifter. This is a metaphor I need to take to heart!

  12. Thanks for hosting, Leigh Ann. I can see why you love that poem so much. It's brilliant. And I love "Words will befriend you." That's definitely true for me because words sort of "hang around" with me—company for my mind.

  13. Good morning, Leigh Ann--rushing as always this morning, I'll have to come back later to sink into this sifting! Thanks for hosting!

  14. This poem and collection are new to me, so thanks for sharing! I really want to do the kitchen utensil metaphor activity with my students! Thanks also for being roundup host. Have fun with the weekly poetry party!

  15. Yes, a sifter and a maker! That's what I want to be. Leigh Ann, I enjoyed your post very much. It is perfect for today as we reflect on why we write and what first brought us to the page. Thank you so much for hosting...happy National Day on Writing!

  16. What a wonderful poem. Thank you for sharing it, and for hosting!

  17. A sifter... love it. Leave it to Naomi Shihab Nye! Thank you for hosting and for sharing this book.xo

  18. Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorites. I was lucky enough to hear her speak last fall and to have her sign my daughter's copy of this book. Thanks for hosting today! I'm rushing now, but will be back to savor this and other posts later. I am not quite sure how to link today, and can't see anyone else's links, so I'm going to post my link here: If someone can explain to me (slowly and step by step lol) how to link it up, I'd appreciate it! Thanks!

    1. I added your link, Molly, since I happened to read your comment right about mine:>)

  19. I've never seen this book or poem, I don't think--what a beauty. Goes well with Kate Coombs' mindfulness poems in Breathe and Be. Totally different form, but the intention...lovely. Thanks for hosting!

  20. Leigh Ann,
    Appreciations for your hosting.
    And with such a nourishing poetry book & poet for all times but especially these times.
    Although I have bought many of Naomi's S.H.'s titles, I don't have this but because of thoughtful you, I will.

    Happy Poetry Friday!

  21. Thank you for hosting today! Isn't it fun. I love the Naomi's poem about being a sifter. May I slow down enough each day to sift my own time, too. I would love to read the rest of the poems, too. She is so wise!

  22. Love the poem -- just read it last week and "almost" shared it today :). Need to see the book now. Nye is definitely one of my favorites. Thanks so much for hosting this week, Leigh Anne. :)

  23. Thank you for hosting and for sharing this beautiful poem today.

  24. Thank you for this gorgeous Naomi Shihab Nye poem. She is a great soul, and these words from her will go into my own notebook today. I am so glad you hosted...Happy Poetry Friday! xx

  25. Leigh Anne, I am delighted that you are today's host. How appropriate since October 20th is the National Day On Writing. Thank you for offering such an inspirational poem for us today, one of Naomi Shihab Nye's that I never read. Here's to being a sifter today and knowing that words will befriend me as I go on leaf peeping mission with my family.

  26. Leigh Ann, I think you've nailed the Poetry Friday Round-Up hosting! I'll have to look for A Maze Me. (Love the title!)

  27. Thanks for hosting and giving me a beginning boost for more writing, Leigh Anne. I'm back from the Highlights workshop, and love your poem. I have A maze Me, happy to read a poem from it!

  28. Love your poem selection! I love Naomi Shihab Nye's poetry. Thanks for doing the roundup this week.

  29. Thanks so much for hosting. I love Naomi Shihab Nye.

    I'm in this week with thoughts about Richard Wilbur -- connecting the beauty of his poems to my husband's recent cancer diagnosis.

  30. Your post gave me the boost I needed to jot down the lines I've been saying I needed to jot down as I notice things. I will do it. I am going to a writers' workshop on metaphors in a couple of weeks, and this was perfect to give a jump start to my thinking! Loved this poem!

  31. Thanks for hosting, Leigh Anne! I am embarrassed to say I haven't read enough of Naomi's poetry. This wonderful poem has given me the encouragement I need. Thanks! -- Christie

  32. I love this book by Naomi. She is a master poet with such a gentle spirit. My favorite line in this book is "I want to be someone who makes music with my coming." Thanks for hosting and being such a sifter/ guide in my life.