Jan Beatty

Cindy Seip

Jan Beatty is a poet. Her books include The Body Wars, Jackknife: New and Collected Poems, The Switching/Yard, and the chapbooks Ravage and Ravenous. She also wrote Comets, a collection of essays about gender and censorship. Beatty’s work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Poetry, BuzzFeed, North American Review, and The Best American Poetry. American Bastard: A Memoir (Red Hen Press) chronicles her search for her birth parents, a journey that compelled her to traverse literal continents – and continents of desire – as she finds her birth father, a Canadian hockey player and winner of three Stanley Cups, and her birth mother, a working-class woman from Pittsburgh. Issues of class and struggle run throughout, with a link between identity and blood history a driving force of her experience. Beatty writes through complete erasure: loss of name and history, and a culture based on the currency of gratitude as payment from the adoptee. American Bastard sandblasts the exaltation of adoption in Western culture and the myth of the “chosen baby.” Presidential Inaugural Poet and author Richard Blanco said that “American Bastard dares and succeeds at reimagining 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.”