“To My Teacher,” a Poem by Jean Valentine

From the Collection “Light Me Down: The New & Collected Poems of Jean Valentine”

April 18, 2024  By Jean Valentine

To My Teacher

My first own half-grown tenderness
out in the world—you teaching us
Beowulf, World War II, the army, Gertrude Stein,
already a lifetime-full of the meaning of things—
Still now, my second father, gone ahead,
I talk to you. I can’t hear your words yet,
but your voice like one of the trees
still around your old GI Bill house: Beowulf poet,
do people meet again? In our same old clothes?
or light?


Light Me Down: The New & Collected Poems of Jean Valentine - Valentine, Jean

Light Me Down: The New & Collected Poems of Jean Valentine by Jean Valentine is available via Alice James.

Jean Valentine
Jean Valentine
Jean Valentine was born in Chicago and earned her BA from Radcliffe College. Her first book of poems, Dream Barker and Other Poems, won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1965. She is the author of over a dozen collections of poetry, including The River at Wolf (1992); Little Boat (2007); Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965–2003, which won the National Book Award; Break the Glass (2010), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Shirt in Heaven (2015). A longtime resident of New York City, Valentine served as the State Poet of New York from 2008 to 2010. She has taught at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and the 92nd Street Y in New York. She has been awarded a Bunting Institute Fellowship, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, the Shelley Memorial Prize, the Wallace Stevens Award, and the 2017 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry.

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