Poetry Spotlight: “Kindness” – Naomi Shihab Nye

Recently, my dear friend Ranu shared a poem on social media by Naomi Shihab Nye. I had only come to learn of Nye’s poetry back in 2019, when a poetry newsletter shared a list of poems to be read, in the place of, or alongside prayers, during Thanksgiving dinner. In response to that post, I shared that first poem of hers, which had struck me so, and continues doing so each time I return to it. That poem is Red Brocade.

This began a brief volley of shared poems, ushering from her a link to a video of actress Emma Thompson reading the poem Kindness. In her preamble, Thompson dedicates the poem to humanity’s collective future, speaking about the need to consider a shift in our priorities and move towards a more kind, empathetic society.

What the crisis has made so painfully clear, is that we can’t go back to normal. We have to replace some of our priorities with others. We have to place people before profit, operation before competition, and above all, we have to access what has been so abundant…which is kindness.

Emma Thompson in her preamble to reading Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, Kindness.

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