Jean Valentine was born in Chicago, earned her B.A. from Radcliffe College, and lived most of her life in New York City. She won the Yale Younger Poets Award for her first book, Dream Barker, in 1965. Her 13th book of poetry was Shirt in Heaven, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2015. Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965 - 2003 won the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry. (All of her books are listed below.)
Jean was the State Poet of New York for two years, starting in the spring of 2008. She received the 2009 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and also received a Guggenheim Fellowship and awards from the NEA, The Bunting Institute, The Rockefeller Foundation, The New York Council for the Arts, and The New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as the Maurice English Prize, the Teasdale Poetry Prize, and The Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Prize in 2000. In 2014 she was given an award for exceptional accomplishment in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was awarded Yale University’s Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 2017.
She taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Graduate Writing Program of New York University, Columbia University, and the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan.
Jean Valentine died on December 29, 2020, in New York, NY. She was 86.
into a Jean Valentine poem is like looking into a lake: you can see your own
outline, and the shapes of the upper world, reflected among rocks, underwater
life, glint of lost bottles, drifted leaves. The known and familiar become
one with the mysterious and half-wild, at the place where consciousness and
the subliminal meet. This is a poetry of the highest order, because it lets
us into spaces and meanings we couldn't approach in any other way."
Shirt in Heaven
Break the Glass
in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965 - 2003
Cradle of the Real Life
Darkness, Growing Light
Under Voice: Selected Poems
River at Wolf
Deep Blue: New and Selected Poems
Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva,
Lighthouse Keeper: Essays on the Poetry of Eleanor