Biography of Jan Beatty
Jan Beatty is an American poet.Born in 1952 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she received her Bachelor of Arts from the West Virginia University and her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Pittsburgh. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, musician Don Hollowood.
Her most recent poetry collection is The Switching/Yard (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013), and her poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including Quarterly West, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, and Court Green, and in anthologies published by Oxford University Press, University of Illinois Press, and University of Iowa Press. Her honors include fellowships from the Ucross Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Yaddo. She was awarded the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry from the Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council in 1990, and the $15,000 Creative Achievement Award in Literature from the Heinz Foundation. Her first book, Mad River, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize of the University of Pittsburgh Press in 1994. Some of Beatty's poetry, considered sexually explicit, led to problems with a scheduled reading at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in April 2008.
Beatty currently heads the writing program at Carlow University, where she also directs the Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshop. She has also taught creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh. Along with Ellen Wadey, Beatty hosts and produces Prosody, a weekly radio program featuring the work of national writers.
Jan Beatty Poems
Report From The Skinhouse
I went looking for the body. The apple, tree, the river. Gliding voice, curve of arm,
We're sitting in Uncle Sam's Subs, splitting a cheesesteak, when Shelley says: I think I should buy a gun.
My Father Teaches Me to Dream
You want to know what work is? I'll tell you what work is: Work is work. You get up. You get on the bus.
An eater, or swallowhole, is a reach of ...
An eater, or swallowhole, is a reach of stream or a tidal area given to violent currents and waves that often upset and/or suck under boats and kayaks and the like as they are attempting passage. — William Kittredge The eater, my birthmother, was speaking:
After Roselia Foundling Asylum and Maternity Hospital, corner of Cliff and Manilla This is the house I was born in. Look at it. Asylum.
The torso facing east, the head nearly west, as if she couldn't take in the sight of her own skin and its failings, its parts spilling
Banff, Alberta The mother elk and 2 babies are sniffing the metal handle of the bear-proof trash bin. I remember the instructions for city people:
Zen of Tipping
My friend Lou used to walk up to strangers and tip them—no, really— he'd cruise the South Side,
Sticking It to the Man
Lateeka's working, my favorite teller— she's got wild nail art & fire red/ feather extensions.
I'll Write the Girl
The thing I'll never write is the green leaf with its rubbery-hard veins, I'll never write the structure exposed, instead
The torso facing east, the head nearly west,
as if she couldn't take in the sight of her
own skin and its failings, its parts spilling
onto other parts. She thought:
Nothing for once.
Too tired for fantasy.
If a body can be seen as itself and loved,
it's a wonderful thing. If the thing-ness
of the body is all, we're doomed and