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.
About the Author
Jan Beatty is the author of three previous poetry collections: Red Sugar, Boneshaker, and Mad River, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of the Creative Achievement Award in Literature from the Heinz Foundation, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, two fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and inclusion in The Best American Poetry 2013, among other honors. Beatty is cohost and producer of Prosody, a weekly radio program featuring the work of national writers. She is the director of the creative writing program at Carlow University.
Table of ContentsContents Visitation at Gogama California Corridor California Corridor My Mother Was a Dress |Revenant| We Cover Our Heads Like Deer Sister as Moving Object Outside the Carnegie Library, Oakland Three Faces and All These Fallen Gods = Delicious White Girl in a Record Store American Revolver Top-10 List Youngest Known Savior || Adventures of Birthmother || Reading Wanda Coleman on the California Zephyr The Switching/Yard / / The Switching/Yard The Hit Man Jimi Dream Driving While Wet Her Steerage Memoir w/Warriors In the Staging Area = = Ghostdaddys Switching Dear American Poetry, Stein: Letter to a Young Rilke The Dealer in the Natural World Body Snatchers Approaching Denver / Union Station / / / Approaching Denver/Union Station || Adventures of Birthmother || Sticking It to the Man Shrink Company Car Monument to the War Dead Blind = = = Drinking the Lizard King Crosschecking Why I Don’t Fuck Intellectuals Lovely On Leaving the 5th Funeral in 15 Weeks In Waking: Summer Dear Fresno, Notes on a Nevada Flood Notes Acknowledgments