Jane Shore's poetry has garnered accolades from critics and prestigious awards in her field. She is the author of five books of poems: Eye Level, winner of the 1977 Juniper Prize; The Minute Hand, awarded the 1986 Lamont Prize; Music Minus One, a finalist for the 1996 National Book Critic Circle Award; Happy Family (1999); and A Yes-or-No Answer (2008), winner of the 2010 Poets' Prize. Shore writes poems that are "memorabilia; they cultivate the leisure and faceted pleasure of retrospection; they favor the miniature and the artifactual; they are tender toward kitsch," to quote a reviewer in Poetry magazine. Shore produced her first mainstream poetry collection in 1977 and has published approximately one volume per decade since. Her interests, almost always autobiographical and pertinent to her cultural Jewish heritage, are, according to a Virginia Quarterly Review correspondent, "carefully constructed and restrained, in a voice that maintains a deceptively calm and even tone."
The poems in her first collection, Eye Level (1977), range in locale from Vermont to Haiti and make universal observations based on such mundane items as Advent calendars and paperweights. "Jane Shore is a new voice in American poetry, and her first book is an outstanding collection," declared a Choice reviewer. In his Poetry piece on the volume, David Bromwich noted that Shore "gives something of herself while holding back something, in keeping with her economy; the gift is there for us to peek at but not to display (it was not meant for display); it is a delight to have around the house, and makes us wonder what her patience will bring next." A New York Times Book Review contributor noted that in Eye Level the poet's concerns "are the strictures and surprises of seeing, and her typical emotional texture is one of detachment, mixed with occasional tension and regret." The critic observed that Shore "escapes the more obvious weakness of much faddish poetry. . . . Her privileged viewers—Lot's wife, an astronaut, the Creole maid in Port-au-Prince—extend her own vision."
Critics have been equally praiseworthy of Shore's subsequent collections. Kliatt contributor James Beschta called the poems in The Minute Hand "sophisticated," adding that throughout the work "both the craft and the cleverness of the poet are obvious." A Poetry reviewer noted that in The Minute Hand "the poet recycles the variegated vestments of collective imagination, that she may stitch her own affectionate connections with the past and with human community." In Publishers Weekly, a correspondent deemed Music Minus One "a virtuoso performance" in which the poet "captures the nuances of an intense childhood lived as if every decision will be crucial for the lives around her." Judy Clarence, writing in the Library Journal, called Shore "one of the most accessible poets writing today," concluding that in Music Minus One Shore demonstrates "a wonderful knack for narrative and spins out her tales with moving, compelling richness."
Shore is the recipient of fellowships from The Guggenheim Foundation, The Radcliffe Institute, The Hodder at Princeton University, The Goodyear Fellow at The Foxcroft School, and twice from The National Endowment for the Arts. She is a professor at The George Washington University and lives in Washington, DC and in Vermont.
Radcliffe Institute, Cambridge, MA, fellow in poetry, 1971-73; Harvard University, Cambridge, Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in English, 1973—. Has given poetry readings.
- Lying Down in the Olive Press (chapbook), Goddard Journal Press, 1969.
- Eye Level, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst), 1977.
- The Minute Hand, University of Massachusetts Press, 1987.
- Music Minus One, Picador USA (New York City), 1996.
- Happy Family: Poems, Picador USA, 1999.
- A Yes-or-No Answer: Poems, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008.
Work represented in anthologies, including Ten American Poets, edited by James Atlas, Carcanet Press, 1973; Out of This World: Poems from the Hawkeye State, edited by Gildner, Iowa State University Press, 1975; The Blacksmith Anthology, 1976. Contributor of poems to literary magazines and popular periodicals, including New Republic, Antioch Review, and American Review. Ploughshares, member of editorial board, 1973-74, editor, 1977.
- Boston Globe, November 24, 1996, p. 17.
- Choice, May, 1978, p. 402.
- Library Journal, September 15, 1996, p. 72.
- New Republic, December 10, 1977, pp. 35-36.
- New York Times Book Review, May 21, 1978, p. 24; February 23, 1997, p. 16.
- Poetry, December, 1978, pp. 174-76; February, 1988, pp. 419-20.
- Publishers Weekly, July 22, 1996, p. 237.