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Break the Glass (Lannan Literary Selections) Hardcover – September 21, 2010


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Break the Glass (Lannan Literary Selections) + Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003 (Wesleyan Poetry Series)
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Product Details

  • Series: Lannan Literary Selections
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press; First Edition edition (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155659321X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556593215
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 6.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,457,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In the connected, untitled lyrics that make up the final section of Valentine's 11th collection, the poet is at her fierce best. She addresses Lucy, an early hominid whose skeleton was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The details that Valentine always renders palpable and significant are heightened by their juxtaposition with this long-lost life, as when she questions: "Did you have a cup, Lucy?/ O God who transcends time,/ let Lucy have a cup." Current terrors--bodies falling from the World Trade Center towers, the deaths of a pair named Ruth and Grace--are both contextualized and underscored by this totem "skeleton mother." Valentine writes: "when my scraped-out child died Lucy/ you hold her, all the time." The rest of the volume ranges in subject matter and setting, moving from a soldier in the Civil War to a chemo patient, Haiti, ghosts in elephant fields. Each poem shares Valentine's trademark concision and pared-down punch. Some of her severe observations can stop your breath: "Don't listen to the words--/ they're only little shapes for what you're saying,/ they're only cups if you're thirsty, you aren't thirsty."
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From Booklist

State Poet of New York and National Book Award winner Valentine’s poems are brilliantly concentrated and neatly faceted, forged in the heat and press of experience and rumination like diamonds within the earth. In meticulously measured lines of deceptive quickness, Valentine encompasses the full spectrum of life and death as she deftly limns vivid landscapes etched by change slow and irrevocable, such as an old, abandoned stable and its fields, where the poet sees deep down to buried horses, a cow, memories. Attuned as she is to spirit, Valentine is nonetheless unsentimental, facing hard facts about the grand scheme of things when she comes across “just-born,” now-doomed rabbits in the garden. Her poems possess the immediacy and gestural magic of cave paintings and the resonance of psalms, albeit with a wild and pagan streak, as in the wonderfully piquant “Earth and the Librarian,” and a series of keening, prayerful, praise poems to Lucy, our 3.2 million-year-old foremother. Sharply honed yet mysterious, Valentine’s lyrics of longing, conscience, collapsed time and space, and the elemental are startling and resounding. --Donna Seaman

More About the Author

Jean Valentine won the Yale Younger Poets Award for her first book, Dream Barker, in 1965. Her eleventh book of poetry, Break the Glass, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2010. Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965 - 2003, was the winner of the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry. Valentine was the State Poet of New York from 2008-2010. She received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2009 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. She has 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. She has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Graduate Writing Program of New York University, Columbia University, and the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tim and Libby on January 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jean Valentine writes in a sparse, condensed way that feels like the product of a lot of thought. It's wonderful to enter into her meditative world and share her vision. I recommend.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
With plenty of experience, Jean Valentine keeps on chugging with her eleventh volume, "Break the Glass". A National Book Award winner, she focuses on remembering the tragedies of the past and what they have left behind. Thoughtful poetry, "Break the Glass" is a solid addition to any poetry collection. "Who Watches": Who watches/on a moon-surface hillside/the soon-dead children's rubber ball/circle in an oval/sunstruck orbit,/from hand to hand.../Cange, Haiti, Earth.
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