Al Young title

FAME AND OUR NATIONAL HOLIDAY | Gary Gach and Naomi Shihab Nye


click image to enlarge


2013 oscars logo

Gary Gach

open quotes
As my fellow Americans celebrate their national holiday of idolizing
their craving for idolizing fellow human beings who’re famous for
being famous, I offer a few words from poet Naomi Shahib Nye.
close quotes
Gary Gach


naomi-shihab-nye Poetry Foundation


Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,  
which knew it would inherit the earth  
before anybody said so.  

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds  
watching him from the birdhouse.  

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.  

The idea you carry close to your bosom  
is famous to your bosom.  

The boot is famous to the earth,  
more famous than the dress shoe,  
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it  
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.  

I want to be famous to shuffling men  
who smile while crossing streets,  
sticky children in grocery lines,  
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,  
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,  
but because it never forgot what it could do.

©1995 Naomi Shihab Nye

“Famous” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye.

all logos clickable

Poetry Out Loud logo

Dodge Poetry Festival 2008 logo
button camNaomi Shihab Nye at the 2008 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival

 2013 oscars logo
A History and Timeline



3 Responses to “FAME AND OUR NATIONAL HOLIDAY | Gary Gach and Naomi Shihab Nye”

  1. Melba Joyce Boyd Says:

    Fabulous! Love this poem soooo much because it is clever and true.

  2. Bob Baldock Says:

    A simple observation to thank Al, Naomi and Gary, who so enhance this planet:

    Yesterday throughout Oakland and Berkeley without a flicker of self-awareness
    cherry, pear and crabapple trees all blossomed.

  3. Elizabeth Hack Says:

    The poem has Zen simplicity — what a beauty.

Leave a Reply