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Jean Valentine

Jean Valentine is the author of nine books of poetry, most recently Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965–2003 (Wesleyan, 2004), winner of the National Book Award. She received the Poetry Society of America???s Shelley Memorial Prize in 2000.


A Change of World: A Friendship

Spring 2006 | Essays

I’ve known Adrienne Rich, in her work, since 1952, when I was eighteen. I was walking down Garden Street, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, one day in my first weeks at Radcliffe College, when a kindly old gentleman spoke to me, and as we talked, he asked me what I was interested in. I said poetry, and he asked if I knew the poetry of Adrienne Rich—she graduated from Radcliffe the year before. She had won the Yale Series of Younger Poets award (which I’d never heard of) while still an undergraduate. “We’re very proud of Adrienne Rich here,” he said. Looking back, he reminds me of Elizabeth Bishop’s grandfather, in her poem “Manners”:


The Blue Dory, the Soul

—I left the blue dory there had been so much news so many flashbulbs breaking up the dory so many people following their names eating their third heavy car their third book I left the blue dory on its hip on the fence left my soul not "mine" "my" [...]