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Naomi Shihab Nye, Age 22

Guggenheim Fellow, Lannan Fellow, and Witter Bynner Fellow Naomi Shihab Nye is author and editor of over thirty poetry, story, and essay collections, picture books, novels, and anthologies. This essay, never published, was written in her early twenties. Forty years later, at the age of sixty-two, she returned to the essay and rewrote the piece as a story. The essay is presented here; the story will appear next month in the spring issue of Nashville Review.

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— Naomi Shihab Nye, Age 22

Naomi Shihab Nye

“At 22, a Kerouac fiend, I am just starting to like Texas, after my parents chose to leave a war zone (Jerusalem) and move (somewhat recklessly) to San Antonio. Kerouac said San Antonio had the softest air he’d ever known. I graduate from high school and college in Texas. Already attracted to small family businesses, closely observing my neighbors, walking, biking, sitting under trees, I try to write every day. It seems as important and elemental as brushing one’s teeth.”