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Articles and Interviews

With A New Collection, Poet Jan Beatty Affirms Her Leading Role In The Pittsburgh Scene

Split This Rock Interview with Jan Beatty

AWP In the Spotlight - Jan Beatty Featured

Madwomen in the Attic - Cultural Invisibility of Female Writers

Dispatches from the Body Politic

The Kindness: Poem by Jan Beatty

Literary Evolution: Madwomen in the Attic shakes up the model for creative writing workshops

The Dodge Blog: 2014 Featured Festival Poet: Jan Beatty

Radio Free Albion - Episode 15: Jan Beatty

Willow Springs: Jan Beatty author profile

The Poet on the Poem: Jan Beatty

Blog This Rock: Up Close and Poetical

Ed Ochester Presents a Poem by Jan Beatty

Academy of American Poets: Poems by Jan Beatty

The Poetry Foundation: My Father Teaches Me to Dream

American Life in Poetry: Column 072 - My Father Teaches Me to Dream

Book Reviews

  • The Body Wars: Reviews / Praise
  • Jackknife: Reviews / Praise
  • The Switching/Yard: Reviews / Praise
  • Red Sugar: Reviews / Praise
  • Boneshaker: Reviews / Praise
  • Mad River: Praise

  • Reviews of The Body Wars

    Jan Beatty's 'The Body Wars' explores the human condition in timely fashion
    Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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    Reviews of Jackknife

    A Conversation with Poet Jan Beatty about her new book, Jackknife
    Pittsburgh City Paper

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    Praise for Jackknife:

    "Jackknife is a book that secures Jan's place in American literature as one of the fiercest and bravest poets writing today."
    - Maria Mazziotti Gillan

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    Reviews of The Switching/Yard

    About - 'The Switching/Yard' by Jan Beatty
    University of Pittsburgh Press

    'The Switching/Yard' by Jan Beatty
    Fall 2014
    Jacob Victorine

    Review of 'The Switching/Yard'
    August 29, 2013
    Kay Cosgrove

    'The Switching/Yard' by Jan Beatty
    May 1, 2013
    Julie Marie Wade

    'The Switching/Yard': Jan Beatty masters the past with new poetry collection
    April 7, 2013
    By Hester Kamin

    Book Review: 'The Switching/Yard' by Jan Beatty
    March 10, 2013
    By CL Blesdoe

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    Praise for The Switching/Yard:

    "The Switching/Yard is Jan Beatty's unflinching and unapologetic turn, a fierce conflagration of lyric and gorgeously rendered narrative that refuses to give the reader a chance, or reason, to turn away. There is no predictable rooting here, no way to dismiss these stanzas as simple leaps in the evolution of a starkly talented storyteller. Beatty's staunch refusal to bow to the ordinary-her 'switching' of gender roles, positions of power, or the very idea of home-infuses this volume with a brilliance not open to debate."
    - Patricia Smith

    "When I step inside Jan Beatty's poetry, I know I'm entering a place that is inhabited. I feel her presence in every space-whether it's the ghostly train yard ('the brokenness of a highway dream') or a maximum-security prison. Beatty is a poet who speaks with courage and experience. Her poems are electrifyingly candid. Remember the scene in Mommy Dearest when Faye Dunaway stares down the stuffed shirts of the corporate boardroom? 'This ain't my first time at the rodeo.' Jan Beatty could have snapped that entire table in half with the raw energy of her words. In the words of R&B vocalist Carl Carlton, 'she's a bad mamajama.'"
    - D. A. Powell

    "In this aptly titled collection, Jan Beatty zigzags back and forth from mournful balladeer to hopped-up punk, from Pittsburgh smokestacks to Fresno train yards, 'from wreckage to plunder.' Full of Western vistas, dead-end bars, lying fathers, and midnight highways, The Switching/Yard is a ferocious post-post-Beatnik mash-up-part Bukowski, part Wanda Coleman-a barbaric yawp 'lost in the big cosmic bath / where grief and ecstasy meet.'"
    - Campbell McGrath

    "Pablo Neruda Prize winner Beatty's persona wears her mother like a dress ('her neck a blue V / for her blue vagina that birthed six babies'), tries to buy a gun off a man who has 'hurt people,' and moodily declares that there is 'nothing as lonely as / a crane not working.' In short, she cannily captures a desolate American landscape, striking the pose of a skate punk kickflipping his board: 'brilliantly indestructible'."
    - Library Journal

    "Takes us on an unforgettable quest through two countries, through crack dens and ghost railyards, beat-up cars and rolling orchards, to the final soaring words of love and redemption. It is, in simplest form, the story of fighting to find one's place in a shattered world."
    - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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    Reviews of Red Sugar

    Jan Beatty's "Shooter," A Controversy For Feminist & Gender Politics
    August 15, 2013
    By Mary Kate Azcuy

    Review of Jan Beatty's latest book Red Sugar
    September 17, 2009
    By Katherine Howell

    'Red Sugar,' by Jan Beatty
    May 11, 2008
    By Jane Ciabattari

    Bookstore and poet in war of words over reading
    April 22, 2008
    By Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Poems Off the Straight and Narrow
    April 15, 2008
    Poems from based on the file of Jan Beatty, The poem collection is entitled Red Sugar.

    Interview from "Around Town" on WQED, 89.3fm
    April 9, 2008
    Jan Beatty, Pittsburgh poet, writing professor, and host of WYEP's "Prosody" talks with Jim Cunningham about her new book, Red Sugar. She reads poems and talks about her themes: place, nature, work, class, family, body, sex and love.

    Poet explores brutal emotions women seldom declare
    By Regis Behe, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Sunday, April 13, 2008

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    Praise for Red Sugar:

    Having mastered the art of fury, Jan Beatty does not merely write a poem, she wrenches it into being, slaps it on the page, applies the flames of her passions, then gentles it into the sweating fleshy sweetness of childhood hungers, longings inspired by loneliness or loss, starkly erotic yearnings- all served in deliciously monstrous pportions, to be savored like a long slow French, that perfect tongue of a kiss that sets the soul on throb.
    - Wanda Coleman

    What is it about the poems in Red Sugar, Jan Beatty's astonishing third collection, which brings to mind the incomparable music of Miles Davis? "It's just that I can't play like anybody else... I can't do anything like anybody else," Davis insisted. These poems go their own sure way, making their own fierce music, charting "the fluid stages of / empire and slavery" in the human body, yours and mine, as we rehearse our sometimes sorry but always necessary seductions. Unflinching, vulgar, yet oddly welcoming in the "biting joy" of their American riffs, these poems touch us here, and here, and even here.
    - Michael Waters

    Jan Beatty's Red Sugar is a hard rocking book, a gorgeous sexual book, a fearless way high up and way down deep rollercoaster book of poetry such as you never have read before and will want to read over and over. It is full of strong language and full of love, and I loved and admired it to the hilt.
    - Alicia Ostriker

    Red Sugar is tantalizing and forbidden, but it is no peepshow. The poems are raw, brash, and full of pluck, yet there is tenderness and honest emotion at the core. Jan Beatty reminds us that there is 'nothing between us and death but one inch.' She takes us to the edge of being and shows us our own quick mortal souls. Yes, there's rock music and prison sex--but do not think for a moment that this book is merely licentious. Beatty casts a broad canopy over human desire, and within the scope of experience, she finds, too, that we are innocent and sublime beings. A rich, rare treat, this Red Sugar.
    - D. A. Powell

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    Reviews of Boneshaker

    Review of Boneshaker
    By Mary Gannon

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    Praise for Boneshaker:

    'Wild girl fire' is what Jan Beatty calls it, 'that white-hot tearing' that ignites into art or self-destruction. Poetry against all odds. Poetry as the death-defying act. Poetry as the wild choice for a girl running reckless from the working class. Between odd jobs and odd loves, Beatty writes from the tender heart without flinching.
    - Sandra Cisneros

    This is slap in the face, wake the fuck up and smell the roses poetry. this is pay attention Bub, or you'll be in a jam poetry; poetry written in defiance of gravity and in the face of all the forces of our own desire that want to drag us down. And underneath all of this wildness is a true love and care for craft, and the anxious, bluesy rhythm of good talk, like a river.
    - Bruce Weigl

    What is the body? In Jan Beatty's courageous, beautiful, and harsh new book, Boneshaker, the body is as horrifyingly without boundaries as the cosmos, as constricted as a prison cell. Language, too, is a body. At times it is stitched up tight in the strictures of narrative. At other times, chopped and opened up, not even a sentence survives intact. Restless with complacency and restriction, this book ricochets among a multitude of forms, tones, subjects. Boneshaker is a fierce, intelligent, terrifying interrogation of categories, among them the category of the book itself. Nothing is beyond the reach of this splendid new work.
    - Lynn Emanuel

    There is a school of poetry where the poems have content, where they communicate, where beauty is not forgotten. It is about work, family, and the lost towns. Grief. Jan is a central figure in this school.
    - Gerald Stern

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    Praise for Mad River:
    Winner of the 1994 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize
    Selected by Dorianne Laux

    "It is in her keen mental note taking that the real madness - that is, passion - lies. In every poem, she keeps her fury constrained but omnipresent, so that is resembles a covered dog's warning growl, yet she hints of happier possibilities, too.'
    - Booklist

    "Raw, energetic, gritty, risky, sexy, and real.... The power of these short narratives is often cumulative, building a vision of a world seen through the eyes of a wanderer, a woman, a waitress."
    - Dorianne Laux

    "I would shout from my back porch 'Read these poems!' (if I knew you would listen); they are funny and smart, lush and tough-minded, wacky in that particular American wackiness, graceful, burning, alive." - Bruce Weigl

    "A fresh voice with rough edges, shamelessly bringing sex, fear, compassion, the hurt you feel for others and the self - and the grit and drive of working class lives - into language."
    - Alicia Ostriker

    "There are so many tributaries connecting Mad River to our everyday world. Jan Beatty isn't afraid to venture out into the quicksand that troubles our national psyche at the edge of this millennium.... [Her] poems speak to us head-on, with courage and a contemporaneous eloquence."
    - Yusef Komunyakaa

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    Jan Beatty, poet