celebrating poetry for life

janebeal-facultyphoto2011JANE BEAL, PhD is a poet and a writer, educator, and midwife. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California, where she received her BA (Sonoma State University), MA (Sonoma State University), and PhD (UC Davis) in English, with concentrations in biblical, classical, medieval, and early modern literature, and an MFA in Creative Writing (Bay Path University). She also holds a Certificate in Midwifery from Mercy in Action College of Midwifery and a graduate Certificate in Narrative Medicine from Bay Path University. She has taught at Wheaton College (near Chicago), Colorado Christian University (near Denver), and the University of California, Davis (between San Francisco and Sacramento) as well as EPIC Bible College and Graduate School and the UC Washington Center (in Washington, D.C.). She has served as a midwife in the U.S., Uganda, and the Philippines. As a sincere follower of Jesus, she has also served as a lay minister in diverse Christian churches. She is currently a tenured, full professor of English Literature at the University of La Verne (near Los Angeles) in southern California.

Poetry, Music, and Art

Her books of poetry include Sanctuary (2008), Rising (2015), and Song of the Selkie (2020) as well as several haiku micro-chapbooks from Origami Poems: Journey, Garden, Bliss, Wide Awake and Dreaming, In the Santa Cruz Mountains, Songs of Water, and Wilderness. She has recorded three audio projects combining music and poetry: “Songs from the Secret Life,” “Love-Song,” and with her brother, saxophonist and composer Andrew Beal, “The Jazz Bird.” She interweaves poetry and collage artwork in her picture-books Sacred Art and Fairy-Tale; poetry and photography in Tidepools; and poetry and painting in Light and Lily. She is also contributing poet and editor of Hail, Radiant Star! (2019), a poetry anthology.

Fiction and Creative Nonfiction

Her fiction is featured in her book, Short Stories from Undiscovered Countries (2009). Her stories also appear in Crux Literary JournalDappled Things, Pacific ReviewLiterature Today, The Voices Project, and Main Street Rag’s anthology Law & Disorder (2014) and Propertius Press’ anthology Draw Down the Moon (2021). Her short story collection, Hourglass, is under review. Her creative nonfiction includes biographies of medieval and Renaissance women writers, about such luminaries as Christina Markyate, Marie de France, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Queen Elizabeth I, and Aemilia Lanyer, published in Gale’s British Writers, and about contemporary poet Ruth Stone, published in American Writers. She has written many articles about the lives of midwives and the practice of midwifery, which appear regularly in the professional magazine Midwifery Today. She also publishes lyric essays, which combine memoir, research, and poetry.

Literary and Cultural Studies

In the field of literary scholarship and cultural studies, she has written the academic monograph, John Trevisa and the English Polychronicon (2012), and co-edited the festschrift, Translating the Past: Essays on Medieval Literature in Honor of Marijane Osborn (2012). Inspired by the exquisitely beautiful, fourteenth-century, Middle English dream vision called Pearl, she has also written The Signifying Power of Pearl: Medieval Literary and Cultural Contexts for the Transformation of Genre (2017), co-authored and co-edited Approaches to Teaching the Middle English Pearl (2018), and edited and translated Pearl: A Middle English Edition and Modern English Translation (2020). She recently edited and contributed to Becoming the Pearl-Poet: Perceptions, Connections, Receptions (2022), which features essays on all the poems attributed to the poet: Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and St. Erkenwald. For Brill, she is the editor of three volumes of academic essays on the reception of major religious figures in the Middle Ages: Illuminating Moses (2014), Illuminating Jesus (2019), and Illuminating Muhammad (in progress). She is currently writing a new book, Truth and Transformation in the Mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien (under contract).

Social Justice for All

As a writer, educator, and midwife, she is passionate about social justice. She believes everyone should have access to clean water and healthy food and good medical care, to educational and economic opportunities, to political and social rights, and most especially, to the spiritual gifts of God that can only be fully experienced and enjoyed when people live free from fear, coercion, exploitation, and dictatorship. So she partners with Christian churches and non-profit organizations that seek to help people and change the world for good.

Over the years, she has devoted her proverbial human “time, talent, and treasure” to making clean water readily available in the developing world, especially in rural Africa … to encouraging, educating, and empowering pregnant women … to educating and training midwives … to providing food, clothes, medical care, education, and spiritual formation to children living in poverty internationally … to supporting foster and adopted youth and their families … to stopping human trafficking through prevention, intervention, and restoration efforts … to investing in sustainable living practices … to protecting the natural environment, including wildlife and bird sanctuaries … to alleviating the devastating effects of natural disasters … to helping the homeless … to getting books into the hands of prisoners and Christmas gifts into the hands of their children … to educating college undergrads, including future health professionals and English majors (who are some of the most idealistic world-changers out there!) … and most especially, to developing holistic spiritual and communal support for all people through the ministries of humble, hardworking, generous churches. 

Everyone can live to give and give so that others can live. The biggest problems in the world can be reduced through the miracle of the butterfly effect: one small change effecting bigger changes, and rippling out over time, until many people receive help and the world becomes a better place. Everyone makes a difference, and every little bit counts: working together with churches, charities, and NGOs, many world-wide problems can be solved. For nothing is impossible with God, and …

… all things are possible to the one who believes