Little Map

Jean Valentine

Today’s audio poem of the day from the Poetry Foundation is “Little Map” by Jean Valentine, a poet whose work I am not familiar with. (But I guess I should be: she won the Yale Younger Poet’s Prize in 1965, has published numerous collections and has won high praise from, among others, Adrienne Rich and Seamus Heaney.)  “Little Map” is one of those poems that invites questions: it begins with a precise image, but the speaker’s context remains elusive. Everything hinges, at least for me, in my initial reading/listening, on the ambiguity of the pronoun “her.” Listen/read to the poem here. In the audio clip the poet precedes her reading by announcing the work as “another love poem.” That suggests a particular reading of “her.”

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