From the Publisher
"At times chasteningly brief and at other times hypnotically lyrical, The Cradle of the Real Life is an invitation to a highly personalized and yet familiar world which commands readers' attention more aggressively, but no less shrewdly, than her earlier poems . . . what surfaces at the book's end is an entirely fresh world view which persuades through its humble sagacity." —Boston Book Review
"Valentine has moved from the expressionistic kind of poem made popular by her generation . . . to this spare form imbued with spirituality. Her brief poems demand much yet bless the careful reader . . . There is tragedy in the tension between the poet's decorum and the painful life lived. But Valentine, neither coy nor exploitative, is able to use this material with wisdom and restraint. A mature collection from an important writer; highly recommended."—Library Journal
"[Valentine's] poems are models of concentration, demanding a rare insensity in the reader and listener. In order to get anything at all from them, acute attention must be paid. The wording is spare, but omits nothing . . . To alter the old advertising slogan, Valentine may have wept when she sat down at the piano, but, ah, when she started to play! Her triumph can be every reader's in this universal new collection."
—American Book Review
"Intensely felt, condensed and often fragmentary, Valentine's short poems struggle to wrest emotional commitments and general truths from bits of conversations, cryptic dreams and gnomic single images . . . Valentine, in her best poems, yokes clauses together to produce strange, urgent portraits of deep feelings."—Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Intensely felt, condensed and often fragmentary, Valentine's short poems struggle to wrest emotional commitments and general truths from bits of conversations, cryptic dreams and gnomic single images. This eighth collection opens with a set of short poems on erotic and elegiac themes, then offers a long sequence, "Her Lost Book," that merges a caustic account of Irish immigration with a laconic feminist martyrology. Passing from Dublin to the Atlantic shore, Valentine declares, "I want those women's lives/ rage constraints/ the poems they burned/ in their chimney throats... more than our silver or your gold art." A one time Yale Younger Poet (Growing Darkness, Growing Light; etc.), Valentine, in her best poems, yokes clauses together to produce strange, urgent portraits of deep feelings: one such is "Leaving," which closes: "Eight years I sat on my heels in the field/ waiting for you./ I wanted to." Seemingly indebted at times to Dickinson and Nelly Sachs, Valentine's combination of feminist themes, gritty tones and fragmented forms also recall the recent work of Adrienne Rich (one of the book's dedicatees). Yet Valentine fails to balance her clipped measures (as Rich does) against more forthright or expansive modes. Instead, her concision can make ostensibly completed poems and series read like notes for poems not yet written: "They lead me to a/ `love nurse'...she is I am/ sugary/ melt/ and disappear." Valentine's drive to compress can be admired, and everything she does seems urgently meant. Yet her command of form can't always equal her feeling: the result is a book at once harrowing and frustrating. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Valentine, who started her career as a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets back in 1965, follows up a string of sharp, reverberant works with this stunning ninth title. As always, she cheerfully refuses to employ an everyday, accessible style, but she is not obscurantist, instead using poetry to give shape to what lies beyond language. There is evidence here of a life passionately lived, but it is restrained by hard-earned wisdom and the elegance of form. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.