Jean Valentine was born in Chicago, earned her B.A. from Radcliffe College, and has lived most of her life in New York City. She won the Yale Younger Poets Award for her first book, Dream Barker, in 1965. Her 13th book of poetry is Shirt in Heaven, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2015. 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 for two years, starting in the spring of 2008. She received the 2009 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and has 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. In 2014 she was given an award for exceptional accomplishment in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.