March 12, 2002
Poets Jean Valentine and
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
to Read at Smith College
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.--The Poetry Center
at Smith College will host poets Jean Valentine and Sharon Kraus
at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2, in Neilson Library Browsing
Room. The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.
Valentine is the quintessential "poet's
poet." Over the past three and a half decades, she has published
almost a dozen collections to high critical acclaim. Her work
is often elliptical, sometimes surreal, presenting experience
as only imperfectly graspable, and asking an intense focus of
her readers. Valentine's "tough strangeness" (New York
Times Book Review) has won her such distinguished admirers as
Grace Paley and Adrienne Rich, who writes:
Looking into a JV poem is
like looking into a lake: you can see your
own outline, and the shapes of the upper world, reflected among
the rocks, underwater life, glint of lost bottles, drifted leaves.
The known and the
familiar become one with the mysterious and half-wild, at the
where consciousness and the subliminal meet. This is a poetry
lets us into spaces and meanings we couldn't approach in any
It is a poetry, says poet Seamus Heaney,
that "only she could write."
Among many honors, Valentine has received
awards from the Bunting Institute, the Rockefeller and Guggenheim
Foundations, as well as the Maurice English Prize and the Teasdale
Poetry Prize. Her first book, "Dream Barker and Other Poems,"
won the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1965. Subsequent titles include
"The Messenger;" "Home, Deep, Blue;" "The
River at Wolf;" and, most recently, "The Cradle
of the Real Life." A collection of her selected poems was
released in 1995 in Ireland, where she lived for a time in County
Valentine was born in Chicago, earned her B.A. from Radcliffe
College and has lived most of her life in New York City, teaching
at Barnard, Hunter, New York University and, currently, Sarah
Sharon Kraus's first volume of poems, "Generation,"
unflinchingly documents what Publisher's Weekly calls "the
eros of abuse." "Sensual, passionate, earthly and unearthly
together," writes Jean Valentine, "Sharon Kraus's work
brings a fierce grief up into the sane daylight of her words."
In Kraus's new collection, "Strange Land," the narrator
works to reconcile her past and to contemplate a future that
includes motherhood. These are rigorous poems that take nothing
for granted-every emotion is interrogated, every resolution is
contingent. Marie Ponsot called them "darkly brilliant,
reaching from harm to healing and the risk of hope."
Kraus was born in Chicago and studied creative writing at New
York University, where she worked with Jean Valentine, among
others. Her accolades include the Editor's Choice Award from
Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art; an Academy of American
Poets Prize; and a Bread Loaf Writer's Conference Scholarship.
She is the recipient of a fellowship from the MacDowell Colony.
Individual poems have appeared in Triquarterly, Agni, Georgia
Review, Massachusetts Review and Barrow Street, among other journals.
Kraus is currently working toward her doctorate in English
literature at the City University of New York and teaches at
The reading will be followed by a bookselling and signing. For
more information, call Cindy Furtek in the Poetry Center office
at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, director, at (413)