The “Greatest Hits” album. All the greats do it—Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty, Elton John, Madonna, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mariah Carey—so it only makes sense that poets would do the same thing. 


And that’s just what Everything Comes Next: Collected & New Poems is. It’s the greatest hits of Young People’s Poet Laureate Naomi Shihab Nye. The book jacket describes the collection as “...Nye’s most acclaimed, most popular, most inspiring, most life-changing poems of the past forty-five years, together in one volume,” and I am here for it.


Nye’s poems are all those things because when you read them, you can feel the heart of the poet because she writes in a way that makes you feel heard, understood, and connected to a world outside of yourself that also includes you. That sounds kind of weird, but you get it when you read her poetry, along with depth that comes with simplicity in poems like “Little Boys Running on the Dock.”


Seagulls startle, soar

a massive flapping,

and the boys call out,

Sorry pigeons! (58)


Naonmi Shihab Nye stands in front of a chalkboard and reads a poem to a class of high school students. She points at words on the board.


Perhaps, I’m a little biased when it comes to Naomi Shihab Nye. After all, I did mention a poem of hers included in another collection in an earlier blog post, and along with the grocery store H-E-B and the traveler’s roadside-stop-of-choice Bucc-ee’s, Nye is a Texas treasure, and she did once come and read poetry in my classroom. But there is a reason she was selected as the Young People’s Poet Laureate—she honors poetry while at the same time making young writers feel like poets themselves. You can see this in the three sections the collection is divided into: The Holy Land of Childhood, The Holy Land That Isn’t, and People Are the Only Holy Land.


And you know how when you go to see your favorite artists in concert and they perform all their new music but you want to hear the songs you love? No worries. This collection of new poems and greatest hits includes “Valentine for Ernest Mann,” where Nye gives the best invitation ever to writing poetry.


Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us

we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock

in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.

And let me know.


Nope, not biased at all.


Check out the lesson, "Tortilla Poetry," below!



Michael Méndez Guevara is a former high school journalism and English teacher who spent his time in the classroom helping students see themselves as writers and fall in love with reading through the world of young adult literature. As an educational sales consultant with Perfection Learning®, Michael works with teachers and schools on improving their literacy instruction and providing resources to help students achieve academic success. He has taught elementary school, middle school, and high school and has worked as a district level leader and served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed the state’s current literacy standards. He is the father of three adult sons, the youngest a student at the University of Kansas—Rock Chalk! Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel, The Closest Thing to a Normal Life. When he's not reading, writing, or running, Michael is fully committed to watching as much Law & Order as possible.