Flatiron Books: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

The Tiny Journalist

In 2013, Janna Jihad--then just seven years old--began filming and posting videos that captured snippets of her daily life as a Palestinian living under Israeli occupation. Her videos caught the attention of thousands around the world, including Palestinian American poet Naomi Shihab Nye (19 Varieties of GazelleVoices in the Air). Her collection The Tiny Journalist takes its title from Janna, and its poems--some of which are written to the girl--address the maltreatment of Palestinians by Israel and its allies, including the United States.

"How lonely the word PEACE is becoming./ Missing her small house under the olive trees," Shihab Nye writes in "For Palestine." A sense of weariness pervades some of the collection: fittingly, there is a poem called "How Long?" and one called "Patience Conversations." Even the poems that are ostensibly about daily life are tied to the conflict: "Studying English" begins with a musing on how the word courage "has age/ in it/ but I say/ age is not required." "Mediterranean Blue" jumps straight from the sea's color to a meditation on refugees, and ends with a pointed statement: "And if we can reach out a hand, we better."

On every page, Shihab Nye's insistent call is the same: people, all people, deserve to live safe and healthy lives, free from fear and violence. Her poems are a clarion call to readers to see the violence in Palestine and elsewhere, and to do what they can to work for peace. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams