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Norma Rae 08-19-2013 06:40 PM

Fame and the obsession with it
I have been listening to the IE Radio archives on my way to/from work these days, and as of late, a few discussions related to fame and/or the Western world's obsession with it. While listening to one of these interviews and/or archived call-in shows with Shirley, I was suddenly struck with a memory of a poem I must have first read (and first heard recited) almost two decades ago. It is Naomi Shihab Nye's poem called "Famous," which I first read (and heard recited) in Bill Moyer's The Language of Life (which I will bring up in the Books! thread later this evening). She also has another poem that comments on the idea of fame/privacy/deliberate and conscious living that I will also quote after the "Famous" poem here. By the way, Nye says she wrote "Famous" in response to a repeated grade school student question she gets when visiting schools--"Are you famous?" . . . .What do you all think of these two poems and their commentary on fame/privacy/conscious living? . . .

"Famous" by 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.

And here's a part of another poem that reminds me of this theme . . . oh heck, maybe I will just include the entire poem (it is short):

"The Art of Disappearing" by Naomi Shihab Nye

When they say Don't I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.

Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It's not that you don't love them anymore.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears to the door,
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you can tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.


Anyone want to discuss? If not here, join me in the Books! forum for a poetry thread?! . . .

Namaste from the Midwest,

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