With insight, humor, and uncompromising honesty, Nobody's Jackknife explores power and powerlessness, violence and tenderness, addiction and love. These poems refuse to separate the mundane from the profound: Rolling Rock beer, the racial coding of baseball players, and a melodic litany of yoga asanas intertwine in this brilliant and compelling collection. In 1960s Pittsburgh, a young girl finds her way to adulthood in a family dominated by a hard-drinking, blue-collar father, brothers who excel at baseball and machismo, and a pervasive but ultimately distant Catholicism. Her mother, unable to rescue her, offers two lifelines: reading and yoga. Using an astonishing array of poetic styles, Ellen McGrath Smith shows a rare gift for subtlety, an expansive intellect, and a sometimes brutal candor in this groundbreaking debut collection.
Ellen McGrath Smith's award-winning poetry, short fiction, literary criticism, and scholarship have been published in anthologies and print and online journals nationwide. She has received the Zone 3 Rainmaker Award, the Orlando Prize from the A Room of Her Own Foundation, and other honors. A teacher at the University of Pittsburgh and Carlow University, McGrath Smith holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in English literature from Duquesne University. She lives, writes, works, and practices yoga in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she was born and raised.