"[Jean Valentine's] poems are a rare pleasure: serious and graceful, never glib, testimony to the strength and beauty of the lyric as a music of words, not ideas. As elliptical and demanding as Emily Dickinson, Valentine consistently rewards the reader."—Library Journal
In her eleventh collection, National Book Award–winning poet Jean Valentine characteristically weds a moral imperative to imaginative and linguistic leaps and bounds. Whether writing elegies, meditations on aging, or an extended homage to ancient remains, Valentine searches out ideas and explores the unexplainable. As Adrienne Rich has said of Valentine's work, "This is a poetry of the highest order, because it lets us into spaces and meanings we couldn't approach in any other way."
From "If a Person Visits Someone in a Dream, in Some Cultures the Dreamer Thanks Them":
At a hotel in another star. The rooms were cold and
damp, we were both at the desk at midnight asking if
they had any heaters. They had one heater. You are
ill, please you take it. Thank you for visiting my dream.
Can you breathe all right?
Break the glass shout
break the glass force the room
break the thread Open
the music behind the glass . . .
Jean Valentine is the state poet of New York. She has earned many honors, including the National Book Award, the Wallace Stevens Award, and the Shelley Memorial Prize. She has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and Columbia University. She lives in New York City.