Photo by Neil Winokur.
July 29, 1945 |
Christ Hospital, Jersey City, New Jersey, USA
|Occupation||Poet, spoken word artist|
|Education||MFA New England College|
|Notable awards||One Voice Work Grant
Ramapo-Catskill Library Program of the Year
Janet Hamill (born July 29, 1945 in Jersey City, NJ) is an American poet and spoken word artist. Her poem "K-E-R-O-U-A-C" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her fifth collection, Body of Water, was nominated for the William Carlos Williams Award by the Poetry Society of America.
Born in Christ Hospital in Jersey City, Hamill spent her first five years gazing across the Hudson from the Palisades in Weehawken, N.J. In 1950 her family moved further north to New Milford in Bergen County. In 1963 she attended Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in south Jersey, where she earned a BA in English in 1967. It was at Glassboro that Hamill met life-long friend and collaborator, musician and poet Patti Smith. Both considered campus outcasts and beatniks bonded over art and rock n’roll on the staff of the Avant, the campus literary magazine, and back stage at the campus theatre where they were both active. After graduation, Janet and Patti made their way to New York, where they found their first apartments near Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Patti moved in with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, and Janet lived a few blocks away on Clinton Ave. In 1968 Janet moved to the lower east side, where she briefly shared an apartment with Patti. For the next twenty-five years lower Manhattan would be Janet’s home. With New York City as her base, she interweaved jobs in bookstores with travels across the U.S.A. and down into Mexico. She took a freighter across the Atlantic and travelled through southern Europe, Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Upon her return in 1975, Hamill published her first book, Troublante, and became an active member of the downtown literary community. She read frequently at venues such as the Poetry Project at St. Marks Place, wrote, directed and acted in Bob Holman’s Poet’s Theatre and performed with new wave musician Adele Bertei (The Contortions) at the Mudd Club.
A strong proponent of the spoken word, Hamill has read widely in NYC, across the country and in Europe at museums, venues and festivals such as St. Marks Church, The People’s Poetry Gathering, The Walt Whitman Cultural Center, the WORD Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, the Knitting Factory, CBGB’s Gallery, the Nuyorican Café, Central Park Summer Stage, Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, the Andy Warhol Museum, The Rubin Museum, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival, the Liss Ard Festival in County Cork, Ireland, Patti Smith’s Meltdown Festival in London, the Latitude Festival in Southwold, England, and Liverpool’s Heartbeats series.
She has released two CD’s of spoken word and music in collaboration with the band Lost Ceilings. Flying Nowhere (Yes No Maybe Records, 2000) was produced by Lenny Kaye and executive-produced by Bob Holman; the CD featured cameo performances by Lenny Kaye and Patti Smith. Genie of the Alphabet (Not Records 2005), produced by Janet Hamill and Bob Torsello, featured cameos by Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith, Bob Holman and beat legend David Amram.
Hamill currently resides in New York’s lower Hudson Valley. She’s a professional tutor for the English Dept. at SUNY Orange and a member the advisory board of the Seligmann Center in Sugar Loaf, NY, an organization located on the estate of Surrealist painter, Kurt Seligmann, dedicated to his ongoing legacy and the legacy of Surrealism. She received her MFA in Creative Writing: Poetry from New England College in June 2014.
- Troublante, Oliphant Press (1975)
- The Temple, Telephone Books (1980)
- Nostalgia of the Infinite, Ocean View Books (1992)
- Lost Ceilings, Telephone Books, (1999)
- Body of Water, Bowery Books (2008)
- Tales from the Eternal Cafe, Three Rooms Press, (2014)
- Flying Nowhere (NOT Records), 2000
- Genie of the Alphabet (NOT Records), 2005
- One Voice Work Grant, 2001–2011
- Ramapo-Catskill Library Program of the Year, 1999
- Joel Oppenheimer Scholarship, New England College