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

In Jan Beatty’s fourth collection, The Switching/Yard, she takes us through the ravaged landscape of the American West. In unflinching lines of burning lyric and relentless narrative, she forges the constructed body into movement. What is still stereotyped as the romantic journey—now becomes as scarred as the Rust Belt. What lives in our collective unconscious as the Golden West becomes almost surreal, as these poems snap that vision in half with extended description of ghost explorers.

We see the open truck cab, the farm workers on the corner waiting for pick-up; we see the speaker returning west to find the long-abandoned story of the birthfather. There is no stable landscape here except the horizontal action of moving through. Landscape becomes story. In this extended tale of the idea of family, we find stand-ins for the father in the form of a hit man, Jim Morrison, and ultimately the unyielding road takes the place of the body. The Switching/Yard is at once the horizontal world of the birth table where babies are switched, the complex yard of the body where gender routinely shifts and switches, and the actual switching yard of the trains that run the inevitable tracks of this book.

80 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

March, 2013

isbn : 9780822962410

about the author

Jan Beatty

Jan Beatty’s fourth full-length poetry collection, The Switching/Yard, was named one of “30 New Books That Will Help You Rediscover Poetry” by Library Journal. The Huffington Post named her as one of ten women writers for “required reading.” Her other books include Red Sugar, Boneshaker, and Mad River, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. Beatty is host and producer of Prosody, on NPR affiliate WESA-FM featuring the work of national writers. She is director of creative writing at Carlow University, where she runs the Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops and teaches in the MFA program.

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Jan Beatty