Beatty, Jan 1952-
Beatty, Jan 1952-
PERSONAL: Born 1952.
CAREER: University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, part-time instructor in English and creative writing; Carlow University, Pittsburgh, writing instructor, interim director of the creative writing program, 2006—. Has also worked as social worker, teacher in maximum security prisons, waitress, welfare caseworker, rape counselor, and nurse’s aide. Host and producer, Prosody (radio show), WYEP-FM, Pittsburgh.
AWARDS, HONORS: Pablo Neruda Prize, 1990; Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994, for Mad River; State Street Press chapbook prize, 1995, for Ravenous; Creative Achievement Award, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, 2000; two fellowships from Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
Mad River (poetry), University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1995.
Ravenous (poetry chapbook), State Street Press Chap-books (Brockport, NY), 1995.
Boneshaker (poetry), University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 2002.
Contributor to poetry anthologies published by University of Illinois Press, Kent State University Press, and University of Iowa Press. Contributor of poetry to periodicals, including Indiana Review, Witness, and The Journal.
SIDELIGHTS: Although Jan Beatty has stated that her poetry is not autobiographical, its voice is forged from the experiences of people living, loving, working, and wondering in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Beatty has herself spent much of her life there and has held a wide variety of jobs that inform her work, from counseling rape victims and teaching in maximum security prisons to working tables in diners and hamburger joints. Beatty’s observations on life neither flinch from its difficult moments nor do they mince words. As Lauren McCollum put it in the American Book Review, Beatty’s poetry “is out for blood, hunting after truth despite all consequences.” McCollum also noted that the author’s work “poses emotional and intellectual challenges to its reader, and it is utterly, brutally honest.”
Beatty’s first three collections of poetry have all garnered praise. Ravenous won the 1995 State Street Press chapbook prize, and both Mad River and Boneshaker drew warm reviews. Booklist contributor Elizabeth Millard wrote of Mad River:“To dive into Beatty’s river is to discover a universe of possibilities,” and a Publishers Weekly reviewer called the work “deeply visceral and sensory.” In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mary Gannon found Boneshaker to be “rife with the high-stakes and rhythmic velocity of an urgent message.” Gannon added that Beatty’s poems “appeal to the heart and the ear. . .. But it is the search for one’s bearing in the world accompanied by the impulse to strike out against all that is wrong in it that makes this collection so exhilarating.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
American Book Review, March-April, 2003, Lauren McCollum, review of Boneshaker, p. 19.
Belles Lettres: A Review of Books by Women, January, 1996, Phebe Davidson, review of Ravenous, p. 37.
Booklist, September 1, 1995, Elizabeth Millard, review of Mad River, p. 32.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 7, 2002, Mary Gannon, review of Boneshaker.
Publishers Weekly, August 28, 1995, review of Mad River, p. 108.*