Visiting Poets

Jean Valentine

Jean Valentine

Jean Valentine is the quintessential “poet’s poet.” Since winning the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1965, she has published ten collections of poetry to high critical acclaim. Among her distinguished fans is Adrienne Rich, who writes: “Valentine’s poems ask for a kind of reader that I hope is still being born-one whose senses are unblunted by the heave and crackle of bravura writing, of poetic muscle-flexers and weight-lifters.” Spare, intensely-felt, and often fragmentary, Valentine’s cryptic, dreamlike poems present experience as only imperfectly graspable. Says Seamus Heaney, “These are poems that only she could write.”

Select Poems

Jane is big
with death, Don
sad and kind – Jane
though she’s dying
is full of mind

We talk about the table
the little walnut one
how it’s like
Emily Dickinson’s

But Don says No
was made of iron. No
said Jane
Of flesh.

From THE CRADLE OF THE REAL LIFE (Wesleyan University Press, 2000)

So what use was poetry
to a white empty house?

Wolf, swan, hare,
in by the fire.

And when your tree
crashed through your house,

what use then
was all your power?

It was the use of you.
It was the flower.

From THE RIVER AT WOLF (Alice James Books, 1992)

Poetry Center Reading

Spring 2002
Spring 2013