This Same Sky edited by Naomi Shihab Nye

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Nye, Naomi Shihab, editor.  1992.  THIS SAME SKY.  New York:  Four Winds Press.  ISBN: 0-02-768440-7.

Poet Naomi Shihab Nye selected the poems included in the anthology This Same Sky to represent poets around the world (excluding the United States).  The anthology is divided into six sections:  WORDS AND SILENCES "Sawdust from under the Saw"; DREAMS AND DREAMERS:  "Eyes the Color of the Sky"; FAMILIES:  "The First Tying"; THIS EARTH AND SKY IN WHICH WE LIVE:  "Water That Used to Be a Cloud"; LOSSES:  "Kissed Trees"; and HUMAN MYSTERIES:  "White Bracelets." Additionally, there is a section entitled "Notes on the Contributors" with information on each poet included in the anthology, a map of the world spread under the night sky indicating where the poets in the anthology live, "Suggestions for Further Reading," and indices of the poems by country and poet.  This Same Sky is an ALA Notable Children’s Book, a Booklist Editors Choice and an ABA Pick of the Lists.

Nye is the daughter of Middle Eastern immigrants who complied this anthology during the Gulf War when

the country was pulsing with hatred for Arabs. It was a scary time for me, and I wanted to bring the war down to the human level for the children I was working with. So I found some poems by Iraqi poets and had the kids read them and let them see that these people were no Different than we were. They had the same daily needs,
the same inner lives.

But Iraqi poets are not the only ones included in This Same Sky.  There are poems from around the world including Saudi Arabia, India, Chile, Mexico, Demark, France, Russia, Paraguay, Nuerland (Africa), the Sudan, Poland, Canada, Kuwait, and many others. 

Poetry tends to rely strongly on imagery and this collection is no different, but some of the images seem to reflect on the poet's country and create images that are unique to that country's culture.  In "A Headstrong Boy," Gu Cheng of China writes of a boy who wants "to be as lovely as crayons" and who is so tied to the Chinese culture that he wants to:

draw wind, mountains,
each one bigger than the last.
I want to draw the dream of the East,
a fathomless sea, a joyful voice.

(translated by Donald Finkel)

Carlos Drummond de Andrade of Brazil writes in "Souvenir of the Ancient World" of time in the past when there was more freedom and beauty.  Although currently a democracy, Brazil had been a military dictatorship for many years.

The children looked at the sky, it was not forbidden.
Mouth, nose, eyes were open.  There was no danger.
What Clara feared were the flu, the heat, the insects.
Clara feared missing the eleven o'clock trolley.
She waited for letters slow to arrive,
She couldn't always wear a new dress.  But she strolled
        in the garden, in the morning!
They had gardens, they had mornings in those days!

(Translated by Mark Strand)

Josť Craveirinha of Mozambique tells of what it means to be a man in a country torn by civil war and political upheavals in "A Man Never Cries" which begins:

I used to believe that story
that a man never cries.

And I used to think I was a man.

And ends:

Now I tremble
And now I cry.

As a man trembles.
As a man cries!

(Translated by Don Burness)

In "My Life Story" Vietnam's Lan Nguyen describes her life as a child of war:

She grew up with something missing in her
She had seen the people born and dying
            born from the war
            dying from guns and bombs

. . . 

Only sand in the big desert
no power
nothing at all

. . .

God cannot be mean to her forever. 

The readers of This Same Sky can gain insight into other countries and other cultures through the words of each of the poets.  It is usually the case with poetry that different poems appeal to different readers and with the variety of poets and topics in This Same Sky there truly is a poem for every reader.

Works cited:
McDowell, Kate, Reviewer.  The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books: True Blue Website.  Accessed March 14, 2006.

By Monica Wood