Jackknife

New and Selected Poems

Beatty's lyric comes from the edge of a knife that continues to carve honest beauty from an America we learn only from gifted hands. The arc of this poet's brave heart moving through her life brings back to us the song of who we are. This is a fabulous collection.
Afaa M. Weaver

In Jackknife: New and Selected Poems, Beatty travels the turns and collisions of over twenty years of work. She moves from first-person narratives to poems that straddle the page in fragments, to lines that sprawl with long lines of train tracks. Always landing in meaning, we are inside the body—not in a confessional voice, not autobiography—but arriving through the expanded, exploded image of many stories and genders. The new poems leap imagistically from the known world to the purely imagined, as in the voice in “Abortion with Gun Barrel”: “I am the counselor,/there are cracks in the barrel of the gun/there is aiming/shots of sorrow—/ shots of light.” Commitment to a rabid feminist voice continues, but arrival has a new ring to it, with beginnings rescripted: “I am a bastard./I walk around in this body of mine.” Beatty’s fascination with the highway and the breakout West jackknifes at the crossroads of the brutal and the white plains of loss—the body torn down and resurrected in the twenty first century.

168 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

February, 2017

isbn : 9780822964490

about the author

Jan Beatty

Jan Beatty is professor of English and director of creative writing at Carlow University, director of the Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops, and distinguished writer in residence of the Carlow University MFA program. Her fifth book, Jackknife: New and Selected Poems, won the 2018 Paterson Prize, and her memoir, American Bastard, won the 2019 Red Hen Nonfiction Award.

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Jan Beatty