OK now, be honest, how many people knew that New York once had a state poet named Jean Valentine? Not me, for one. Tip o’ the laureate hat to reader Rich Murphy for providing the following info to New York City poetry lovers, and neighbors of NYC:
I had to click on the name I didn’t recognize, and it was Jean Valentine, who was born in Chicago but has been a NYC resident for many, many years. As the Poetry Foundation’s website says, “Her lyric poems delve into dream lives with glimpses of the personal and political.” Like Seamus Deane, she has translated the poems of Osip Mandelstam. She also won the national book award in 2004. Here’s a seasonally appropriate poem of hers. -ed.
*And by the way did I loan anyone my Seamus Deane Collected Poems? Serious. It’s hardback, and signed, and I haven’t been able to find it for 3-4 years.
Suppose we are standing together a minute
on the wire floor of a gasenwagon:
suppose we are in the dark.
Its warm and dry.
We have food.
We aren’t in hiding waiting.
We have grown up white in America: mostly
we’re sitting in our own light rooms.
Come over, bring things: bring
milk, peanut butter,
your pills, your woolens, crayons.
Snow. It’s dark.
Pray for our friends who died
last year and the year
before and who will die this year.
as the bees do.