Jan Beatty's newest book of poetry, Jackknife (2017, Pittsburgh Poetry Series), was just released from the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her book, The Switching/Yard, was named by Library Journal as one of ...30 New Books That Will Help You Rediscover Poetry. The Huffington Post called her one of ten “advanced women poets for required reading.” Other books include Red Sugar (2008, Finalist, Paterson Prize), Boneshaker (2002), and Mad River (1994 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize), all from the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her limited edition chapbooks include Ravage, published by Lefty Blondie Press in 2012, and Ravenous, winner of the 1995 State Street Prize. Beatty hosts and produces Prosody, a public radio show on NPR affiliate WESA-FM featuring national writers. She worked as a welfare caseworker, in maximum security prisons, and as a waitress for fifteen years. Awards include publication in Best American Poetry 2013, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, two PCA fellowships, and the $15,000 Creative Achievement Award from the Heinz Foundation. Beatty has read her work widely, at venues such as the Geraldine R. Dodge Festival and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. She directs the creative writing program at Carlow University and the Madwomen in the Attic Workshops, where she teaches in the MFA program. She was a featured poet at Split This Rock’s 2010 and 2016 festivals. For more information, visit Beatty’s website.
Zen of Tipping
By Jan BeattyAdded: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / From "Boneshaker," (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002). Used by permission.
My friend Lou
used to walk up to strangers
and tip them -- no, really --
he'd cruise the South Side,
pick out the businessman on his way
to lunch, the slacker hanging
by the Beehive, the young girl
walking her dog, and he'd go up,
pull out a dollar and say,
Here's a tip for you.
I think you're doing a really
good job today. Then Lou would
walk away as the tipee stood
in mystified silence. Sometimes
he would cut it short with,
Keep up the fine work.
People thought Lou was weird,
but he wasn't. He didn't have much,
worked as a waiter. I don't know
why he did it. But I know it wasn't
about the magnanimous gesture,
an easy way to feel important,
it wasn't interrupting the impenetrable
edge of the individual -- you'd
have to ask Lou -- maybe it was
about being awake, hand-to-hand
sweetness, a chain of kindnesses,
or fun -- the tenderness
we forget in each other.