Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri to an American mother and a Palestinian father. At the age of seven, she published her first poem, and at age 14, her family moved to Jerusalem, where she attended a year of high school. Her family then moved to San Antonio, Texas, where she lives today with her husband and son. In her writing, she draws on the voices of the Mexican-Americans that live near her, as well as the perspectives of Arab-Americans like herself and the ideas and practices of the different local subcultures of America.
Nye has gained a reputation for poetry that shows ordinary events, people and objects from a new perspective. She says, "For me the primary source of poetry has always been local life, random characters met on the streets, our own ancestry sifting down to us through small essential daily tasks" (Contemporary Authors).
After getting her B.A. from Trinity University in 1974, Naomi Shihab Nye began her career as a freelance writer, editor, and speaker. She has earned numerous awards for her writing, including four Pushcart Prizes, the Jane Addams Children's Book award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and many notable book and best book citations from the American Library Association.