Light Me Down: The New & Collected Poems of Jean Valentine (Hardcover)

Light Me Down: The New & Collected Poems of Jean Valentine By Jean Valentine Cover Image

Light Me Down: The New & Collected Poems of Jean Valentine (Hardcover)


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Multi-award winner, including a National Book Award, Jean Valentine published twelve full-length collections of poetry during her lifetime, and all of them--plus an entirely new, unpublished manuscript--can be found in this masterful collection of her life's work.

The new poems acknowledge the inevitability of death while tenderly musing on what remains from a world left behind. The poems have an intricate balance between the sadness of a life lived and illuminating how the remaining love is steadfast, irreversible, and abiding even as we transcend from this earth.

In her later years, Jean would write poems on napkins, random scraps of paper, and even on a typewriter, and those close to her would collect these writings and transcribe them into a Word document so they wouldn't be lost. Even Jean's therapist transcribed a poem that she spoke in one of their sessions--a poem that can be found in this new work. Jean was always writing poetry wherever inspiration struck her, even through the struggle of her declining health. It was Jean's wish that her work landed back at her first home, Alice James Books--back to her origin point as a writer, coming full circle.

In these last prayerful poems, the poet visits loss, death, and transitional states. Full of longing, connections, and intergenerational knowledge, Valentine continues the mystical journey that has carried her through a lifetime devoted to poetry. Spirits connect. Guides are everywhere as she is "leaving all worlds behind." Love doesn't disappear but is steadfast and without boundaries. A poet of deep tenderness for everything living, from a dying cricket to her living and lost friends, Valentine is full of gratitude for this world, writing: "This is happiness. Old life, / I'm glad, all my rubbed life/ I was found, / I was written on a wall in air." The reader too is full of gratitude for these moving last missives from a great poet.

Ada Limon states, "The extraordinary poems of Jean Valentine have often existed in the between spaces, the caves, the secret rooms of the mind. They are gorgeous wonders and curiosities that bring us a new kind of light. The Collected Poems of Jean Valentine will no doubt serve as an essential handbook for anyone looking to lean into the knotty questions of human existence."
Jean Valentine was born in Chicago, earned her B.A. from Radcliffe College, and lived most of her life in New York City. She won the Yale Younger Poets Award for her first book, Dream Barker, in 1965. Her 13th book of poetry was Shirt in Heaven, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2015. Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965 - 2003 won the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry. Jean was the State Poet of New York for two years, starting in the spring of 2008. She received the 2009 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and also received a Guggenheim Fellowship and awards from the NEA, The Bunting Institute, The Rockefeller Foundation, The New York Council for the Arts, and The New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as the Maurice English Prize, the Teasdale Poetry Prize, and The Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Prize in 2000. In 2014 she was given an award for exceptional accomplishment in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was awarded Yale University's Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 2017. She taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Graduate Writing Program of New York University, Columbia University, and the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. Jean Valentine died on December 29, 2020, in New York, NY. She was 86.
Product Details ISBN: 9781949944600
ISBN-10: 1949944603
Publisher: Alice James Books
Publication Date: April 9th, 2024
Pages: 512
Language: English