Aspects of Multiculturalism in Naomi Shihab Nye’s 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East

Document Type : Research Papers/Extracts from dissertations


Helwan University


Multiculturalism as a term recently has been used to denote the celebration, acknowledgment and promotion of cultural differences. It is fundamentally defined as political and symbolic recognition of minority cultures, histories and traditions. The term is thoroughly inspired by liberal ideas of human rights and equality. The aim of this paper is to analyse Naomi Shihab Nye’s collection 19 Varieties of Gazelle through the lens of multicultural concepts. Recognition of differences, equality, belonging, and ethnic identity and are key concepts of multiculturalism and will be explored through Nye’s depiction of her Palestinian roots. A reading of Nye’s poems will investigate how the poet delves into issues of ethnic identity and how she envisions multicultural societies. In her poetry, she attempts to give a true image of the Arab with fine details from her memories and personal experiences and thus re-conceptualizes the Arab identity in pursuit of changing western negative orientalist attitudes. Achieving knowledge construction about the Arab identity, illuminating its major qualities with representations that balance negative stereotypical images, building bridges of cross-cultural understanding, reducing prejudices against Arabs and initiating dialogue between cultures are main concerns in Nye’s poetic vision. Nye’s poetry is representative of multicultural ideals particularly acceptance of difference, shared humanity and connectedness of cultures.


Main Subjects