Judith Valente

  • Author, Journalist, Poet. 
  • TV & Radio Producer.
  • Speaker & Retreat Leader. 
  • Benedictine Lay Associate.
  • Environmentalist.


"Judith Valente's poems are deeply rooted in the everyday world, and yet transport us to a place in the soul, a place that C.S. Lewis once described as "the real, real world." She is a poet concerned with those moments that telescope the sacred in the ordinary, offer a clarifying vision of what it means to be human, and remind us we are part of something larger than ourselves. These are love poems to life, whether she is writing about a lunar eclipse, the origin of the alphabet, the art of finding beauty in flaws, or an imagined stroll with William Carlos Williams. The poems contain a keen sense of place. They transport us to a summer parade in rural Illinois, a beach under stars on the island of Maui, a sacred festival in Chiang Mai, a classroom in a Catholic girls school in northern New Jersey. In language that is at once accessible and inventive, these open-handed poems remind us it is a miracle simply to be alive."  --As described on Amazon.com​ 

I wanted to run from that place
in my stiff new regulation loafers
from the girls who lived 
in stone houses on Bentley
and Fairmont Avenues,
summered at Avon-by-the-Sea,
knew by heart the Apostles Creed,
the Joyful, Sorrowful 
and Glorious Mysteries,
but I knew my mother
at that moment stood ankle-
deep in red rubber boots

in a pool of gray water
hosing down cucumbers 
at Wachsberg’s Pickle Works
so she could earn $1.05 an hour
squirrel away a few dollars 
each week to pay my $600 tuition
and at three o’clock
when Sam Wachsberg blew
his plastic whistle,  remove the boots
pack up her lunch sack,
take home the Broadway bus
smelling of sweet relish,
pickled onions,
while the school kids sniffed
her clothes, laughed
behind her back.

I learned to calculate the square root
of a hundred twenty seven
memorized the Holy Sonnets,
the symbols of the elements,
mastered each declension
and conjugation:
amo, amas, amat

by Judith Valente

I was the only public
that September at St. Aloysius
third desk from last
in the alphabet outskirts of class
only Jane Zaccaro,
Barbara Zombrowski 
farther asea.
My body a stranger
in alien clothes:
pleated skirt, white knee socks,
Peter Pan collar
buttoned to the neck.
In freshman art
Mrs. Cirone asked us

to observe a beechwood,
describe what we saw
and some said summer,
others said nature,
I said the branches
were the serpent tresses 
of Medusa – we had read
Bulfinch’s Mythology 
in Sister Helen Jean’s
Latin class –
the bark the terrible 
wide stem of her neck.
Mary Smith grimaced,
Doris Crawford then
Maureen Jennings snickered,
their laughter spread,

washed over the waste baskets,
George Washington’s portrait,
The crucifix above the blackboard in
Room 202.