Sunday, January 14, 2007, 3pm
In Honor of Martin Luther King/Jonathan Daniels Day At the United Church of Christ in Keene, NH

"Language is a tool for creating empathy, not deepening division."

"Poetry, the most intimate form of expression, gives us a deeper sense of reality than headlines and news stories ever could."

"As long as one pain is considered better or more real than someone else’s pain, as long as people think, ‘Your son is not equal to my son,’ there can be no peace."

"I am not interested in who suffered the most. I’m interested in people getting over it."

"We must remind ourselves that fanaticism of any kind is dangerous. We must work every way we can toward wider expression and dialogue."

These are words by Naomi Shihab Nye, who dedicates herself to teaching enemies to see each other as ordinary people. Nye, a self-described "wandering poet," has spent the last thirty years crossing the country-and the world-to lead writing workshops and to inspire students and teachers of all ages. She will be reading her poetry and sharing her thoughts about Jonathan Daniels, as part of the 2007 program to celebrate the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King and Jonathan Daniels on Sunday, January 14th, at 3pm at the United Church of Christ in Keene, NH. The afternoon also features a performance by the Apple Hill Chamber Players with a presentation of their Playing for Peace Program and Civil Rights Songs and songs with lyrics of Nye sung by students from the Monadnock Waldorf School. The program is presented by the City of Keene Martin Luther King/Jonathan Daniels Committee and sponsored, in part, by C&S Wholesale Grocers,Inc; the St. James Thrift Shop; and Antioch University New England. This event is free and open to the public.

Naomi Shihab Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother and grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage and her extensive international travel, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity. Many of her poems are about people-children, grandmothers, neighbors, trying to live normal lives in the face of atrocities. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when she was a visiting poet at a school in Dallas, Nye took the work of Iraqi poets into her classrooms. "Not poems about politics," she says. "Poems about a father thinking about his child or a mother worrying about her daughters." Kids were saying things like, ‘Gee, I never thought about there being children in Iraq.’" Her message is simple, clear, and authentic. It is about human connection and its potential. Nye teaches blood foes to see each other as ordinary people.

Naomi Shihab Nye published her first poem in a children’s magazine at age 6. Since her first book, Different Ways to Pray, in 1980, Nye has become one of Texas’ most prolific popular poets. Her books of poetry include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, Red Suitcase, Words Under Words, Fuel, and You & Yours (2005). She is also the author of Mint Snowball (paragraphs), Never in a Hurry (a collection of essays), Habibi, (a novel for young readers), and Sitti’s Secrets (a picture book). Other works include a picture book, Baby Radar, and eight prize-winning poetry anthologies for young readers, including Is This Forever, Or What?, Poems & Paintings from Texas and A Maze Me: Poems for Girls (2005), as well as a novel for teens, Going Going (2005).

Naomi Shihab Nye has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Wittner Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She has received, among other honors, a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, four Pushcart Prizes, and numerous awards and citations for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards and the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award for 2005 for You & Yours. Her collection “19 Varieties of Gazelle” was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is a regular columnist for Organica and poetry editor for The Texas Observer. Her work has been presented on National Public Radio on such shows as A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac. She has been featured on two PBS poetry specials: "The Language of Life with Bill Moyers" and "The United States of Poetry" and has also appeared on "NOW with Bill Moyers."

The Apple Hill Chamber Players represent one of America’s most highly respected performing ensemble traditions, winning international praise for vital, elegant, and eloquent performances and recordings of the chamber music literature. They promote peace and understanding through the transformative power of playing and teaching chamber music around the world. The "Playing for Peace Project" is dedicated to using the traditions of Apple Hill concerts, residencies, and scholarships to further the causes of world peace and understanding.

The Monadnock Waldorf School Students will sing civil rights songs and also some songs about human respect, harmony, and the goodness of the ordinary person, using lyrics written by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Naomi Shihab Nye will join guests for refreshments following the program and signed books will be available for purchase.