Jean Valentine won the Yale Younger Poets Award for her first book, Dream Barker, in 1965. Her eleventh book of poetry, Break the Glass, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2010. 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 from 2008-2010. She received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2009 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. She has also 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.
She has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Graduate Writing Program of New York University, Columbia University, and the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan.