Poem of the Week: Jean Valentine

Poem of the Week: Jean Valentine

by Michael Klein on February 24, 2011

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in Poems of the Week,Poetry and Poetics


they told me a surgeon sat down in the hospital morgue

next to your body.
He yelled at the aide to get out.

His two sons had been your students.

–me, too, little-knowing–

I’m always, my young fathers,
out in the air, loving you.
Water to water.


Jean Valentine won the Yale Younger Poets Award for her first book,Dream Barker, in 1965. Her eleventh book of poetry is Break the Glass, just out from Copper Canyon Press. Her previous collection, Little Boat was published by Wesleyan in 2007. Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965–2003 was the winner of the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry. The recipient of the 2009 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, Valentine has taught at Sarah Lawrence, New York University, and Columbia.

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  • Marsha Howard

    Thanks for posting this poem, Michael. I first met Jean when you gave a reading at the Mid-Manhattan Library–too many years ago. She became my teacher/mentor/friend. (Also, thanks for the comment rules–too bad that needs stating).

  • Pingback: 2011 02 24 | verse per se

  • http://onehundredforks.blogspot.com/ tess

    I like how this poem seems to be in several places all at once. Grounded, yet floating. Direct, yet indirect. Quiet, yet loud.

    - tess

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