Jean Valentine Reading from “Lucy”

I went to the Jean Valentine reading last night at Bryn Mawr College last night. She’s a small woman who barely stood out behind the podium, but once she began reading, the room (packed, by the way) grew silent and attentive. Her reading style is sensitive, almost cautious of each word’s footing into the space. It was a entrancing evening.

She read mostly from her newest book, Breaking The Glass, released in paperback in 2010 from Copper Canyon. Among the most engaging of the selections is the sectional poem “Lucy,” which takes the fossil of Australopithecus afarensis, discovered in 1974 by Donald Johanson and affectionately named “Lucy” as a metaphor for lots of things–motherhood, humanity’s original state, loss. In the Q & A period that followed the reading, Valentine noted that she gets great comfort in thinking about Lucy–an ancient mother figure who’ DNA helped carve out our own path.

“Lucy, when Jane in her last clothes

goes across   with Chekhov

you are the ferryman, the monk


who throws your weight on the rope.”

Below are three videos of Valentine reading from last night.