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The Body's River
A poem for Sunday

I was born for betrayal—
When my mother left me in the orphanage,

I invented love with strangers.
And if it wasn't there, I made it be there,

until the crash, the revelation.
They say blues is three chords and the truth—

And poetry is long-lined lies and a deep dive
into the body's costly river.

The Atlantic Published February 2023

Jan Beatty talks about The Warhol

Jan Beatty's Warhol Museum billboard

Jan Beatty and Sandra Cisneros at the Miami Book Fair, November 17, 2021

Book Launch! "American Bastard" by Jan Beatty
(w/ Ed Ochester and 8th Street Rox)
Lotenero Art Studio
Saturday October 23, 2021 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

White Whale Bookstore is honored to host the launch of American Bastard, the new memoir by local award-winning writer and poet Jan Beatty! She'll be joined by Nancy Kirkwood for a reading of Ed Ochester's poetry, and by local band 8th Street Rox for some tunes. As some of Jan's biggest fans, we can't wait to celebrate her and this book.

2019 Red Hen Nonfiction Award
Release date: 10/19/21

"I don't think I've ever read a book like this one. I hadn't known some live haunted by their own blood ghosts. It will be medicine for those wounded by their own births; and illuminating for anyone who thought they understood notions of home and kin. It's as if Beatty's lived homesick for herself. American Bastard is as brutal and beautiful as Beatty's poetry. A surgery of the self. Precise and invasive, exploratory and celebratory, debilitating and transformational."
- Sandra Cisneros, House on Mango Street, A House of My Own: Stories from My Life

Jan Beatty's American Bastard starts with a threat - with razor like prose she backs you up against the wall of your naive assumptions. A monumental work of wild innovative storytelling, wholly original, American Bastard would be unbearable in its pain were it not rendered with such exquisite craft and beauty. As a reader you're either in or out, I suggest you stay in for one of the decade's premier memoirs.
- Sapphire, Push, The Kid

American Bastard dares and succeeds at reimaging and redefining memoir as a genre where stream of consciousness meets essay, meets magical realism, meets reportage, meets poetry to create an epic mosaic only possible through the literary genius of Jan Beatty. And as if that weren't enough, an enthralling yet gracious exposé about adoption that confronts and educates us through a voice that is at times tender and broken, at times angry and fierce, but always unflinchingly honest with herself, the people in her life, and her readers.
- Richard Blanco, Presidential Inaugural Poet, The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Memoir

University of Pittsburgh Press
Fall, 2024

American Bastard
2019 Red Hen
Nonfiction Award
Release date:
October 19, 2021
April 13, 2024
San Antonio Book Festival
"Writing from the Taboo"
with Sandra Cisneros and Richard Blanco

October 15, 2023
with Sandra Cisneros
Teatro Bilingue de Houston
Houston, TX

September 1, 2023 - 7:00pm
Ragged Edge Coffee House
Gettysburg, PA

August 23, 2023 - 7:00pm
World Above
Stockton University
Noyes Art Garage
Atlantic City

May 12-13, 2023
Pittsburgh Literary Festival

May 2, 2023
University of Delaware

March 8-11, 2023
AWP Writers Conference, Seattle

March 3, 2023
White Whale Bookstore
Lefty Blondie Press Launch with
Christine Stroud

February 17, 2023
University of California Riverside
Writers Week

October 21-22, 2022
Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival

October 13-14, 2022
Workshop and Reading
The Folger Shakespeare Library
Washington, D.C.

September 15, 2022
Aretha's Jazz Cafe
with Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

May 14, 2022
Pittsburgh Literary Festival

April 24, 2022 - 2:00-3:00pm
LA Times Book Festival

April 23, 2022
The Poetry Center
Passaic County Community College

April 14, 2022 - 5:00-6:00pm PST (Virtual)
Looking Back, Looking Forward:
A Reading with Jan Beatty and Dana Levin
The women writers who influenced their work.
(Iris Jamahl Dunkle MC)

April 9, 2022 - 6:00-7:00pm EDT (Virtual)
Adoptee Literary Festival
EDT Nonfiction Panel

November 17, 2021
Miami Book Fair
with Sandra Cisneros

November 6, 2021
Red Hen Books
Pasadena, CA
American Bastard Launch
w/Richard Blanco, Lynne Thompson

November 11, 2021 (Virtual)
Poetry Flash
with Peter Kline, C. Dale Young

November 7, 2021
Bazaar Cafe
San Francisco

October 23, 2021
American Bastard Book Launch
Lotenero Art Studio
White Whale Bookstore hosting

October Fall Book Festival
George Mason University, VA
Virtual Reading

October 7-9, 2021
Lit Youngstown Fall Literary Festival
In Person

September 30, 2021
Columbia College Chicago
Virtual Reading

Skydog Chapbook
Lefty Blondie Press
released May, 2022

Jan Beatty's new book, American Bastard
released Fall 2021

Jan Beatty's The Body Wars
released Fall 2020
University of Pittsburgh Press

Jan Beatty wins 2019 Red Hen Nonfiction Award for her memoir, American Bastard

Winner of the 2018 Paterson Poetry Prize

My Father Disappears Into Flowers

The apple tree in the backyard with white waterfall blossoms:

my father's body disappearing in his sickness down to 90 lbs,
his hat floating on his head:

my father falling into the clothes rack trying to buy
smaller pants to fit -

he's not gone
The air heavy with waterfall, and him -
vaulting down the front steps in spring:

New York Times Magazine Published Aug. 13, 2020

Listen to this interview


"Jan Beatty's visceral urgency and courageous truth telling is a gust of welcome fresh air. These poems are astoundingly alive!"
- Tracy K. Smith

"Jan Beatty is my essential writer, whose work always makes me feel less alone and less afraid. She is fierce, fearless, harnessing a fury that is as particular as it is familiar.
Her startling imagery and dignified lines hold that energy tight. When I think of Jan's poetry I think: reliably and unapologetically feminist, unflinching especially in terms of violence, poverty, and sex in which women are subjects rather than objects."
- Denise Duhamel

"Jan Beatty's ... poems shimmer with luminous connection, travel a big life and grand map of encounters."
- Naomi Shihab Nye, The New York Times

"What would it be like to be stormless?" asks Jan Beatty early in The Body Wars, a collection riddled with bullets and natural disasters: fire storms, bush fires, fire tornadoes, flash floods, "deranged air." Man-made disasters, too: the heroin crisis, the aids pandemic, "Trump Care." But it is in the midst of crisis that Beatty finds her strength as artist, as witness, as poet. This is not a book that offers answers; rather, it offers important questions: "can I tell you that we mourned?" And "are there too many drowned trees?" These are the questions we all must be asking "as we crack into the mad ocean." What an extraordinary book."
- D.A. Powell

"The Body Wars is unsurprisingly concerned with the human body; the body as it moves through space, the body as a site of pleasure, illness, and frailty; the body as a communicator of truths and betrayer of secrets."
- Kristofer Collins


Released May 2022 from Lefty Blondie Press
image copyright Carlos Hernandez, "New Country"


"Nobody has a better sense of the colloquial American idiom. Nobody among her contemporaries writes better poems about urban working-class life."
-Ed Ochester, Pitt Poetry Series

Jackknife: New and Collected Poems named by
Sandra Cisneros as her favorite book of 2019

"One of ten 'advanced women poets for required reading.'"
-The Huffington Post

Jan Beatty, poet