Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Jean Valentine has been writing for a long, long time — many books, and quietly, starting as a winner with Yale Series of Younger Poets, large and small press publishers for almost fifty years — and one of the strongest gifts of her writing life has been a steady draw of remaining fresh as well as unpredictable and holding to a stunning touch and craftsmanship. Her work has only improved book by book. Royally taking off since her collected poems Door in the Mountain and her two most recent books Little Boat and Break the Glass. The poem I've chosen below is the opening poem to the new book, her eleventh collection. I reached the end of the poem, and while I kept on reading, I haven't really left that page.

In Prison

In prison
without being accused

or reach your family
or have a family............You have

heart trouble


(we lost the baby)
no meds

no one
no window

black water
nail-scratched walls

your pure face turned away

who the earth was for.

Jean Valentine Break the Glass
(Copper Canyon Press, 2010)

author photo: Star Black