Jean Valentine Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although Jean Valentine is principally known as a poet, she edited The Lighthouse Keeper: Essays on the Poetry of Eleanor Ross Taylor (2001) in an effort to expand poetry readers’ exposure to the North Carolinian poet. Valentine also served as a visiting editor for the winter, 2008-2009, issue of Ploughshares.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Jean Valentine’s creative efforts have been acknowledged with the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America (1999) and the Maurice English Poetry Award (2000). Home Deep Blue garnered her the Beatrice Hawley Award. The poet’s visibility was raised to new levels when Valentine received the 2004 National Book Award in Poetry for Door in the Mountain. This award was followed by the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award in 2006 and the Wallace Stevens Award in 2009. She served as New York’s state poet from 2008 to 2010.

Valentine has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Poetry, and grants from the New York State Council for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Bunting Institute.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Bland, Celia. “The World as Her Own: A Profile of Jean Valentine.” Poets and Writers (November/December, 2004): 48-53. The article provides a penetrating profile of the poet and her personal challenges. Valentine’s responses help place the poet in the world of contemporary poetry. It yields more of the woman behind the poetry, while using her publications as guides.

Hacht, Anne Marie, and Ira Mark Milne, eds. Poetry for Students. Vol. 24. Detroit: Gale, 2006. This clearly written discussion of “Seeing You” offers points of reference that remove the mystery for a novice poetry reader and provides a starting point from which to understand Valentine’s stark style.

Rivard, David. Review of The River at Wolf. Ploughshares 19, no. 2 (Fall, 1993): 246. Helps place Valentine in the contemporary poetry movement. Rivard clearly shows the book’s strengths and weaknesses. Rivard discusses Valentine’s tendency to expose feelings too long hidden, which serves to generate an intimacy in her poetry that unsettles and comforts.

Upton, Lee. “’Dream Barker’: Preoedepal Fusion and Radiant Boundaries in Jean Valentine.” In The Muse of Abandonment: Origin, Identity, Mastery in Five American Poets. London: Associated University Presses, 1998. Discussion of Valentine’s use of dreams and their imagery in her poetry, starting with Dream Barker, and Other Poems and later volumes as well. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Valentine, Jean. “A Conversation with Jean Valentine.” Interview by Eve Grubin. Crossroads 59 (2002). Valentine discusses some of the topics she explores in her poems—war, politics, and feminism—and the impact of dreams and the unseen on her poems. She also mentions poets who influenced her poetry.

_______. Interview by Michael Klein. American Poetry Review 20, no. 4 (July/August, 1991): 39-44. Klein’s interview of Valentine provides insight into how she approaches the writing process. The poet’s description of her life allows deeper understanding of her restrained lyrics and how dreams are critical to her writing.

_______. “Jean Valentine.” http://www.jeanvalentine .com. Valentine’s official Web site offers a biography, list of books, and information on readings.