Janine Pommy Vega

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Janine Pommy Vega
BornFebruary 5, 1942
Jersey City, New Jersey
DiedDecember 23, 2010
Willow, New York
OccupationWriter, Poet
Notable work
The Green Piano

Janine Pommy Vega (February 5, 1942 – December 23, 2010) was an American poet associated with the Beats.[1]

Early life[edit]

Janine Pommy was born on February 5, 1942, in Jersey City, New Jersey, and grew up in Union City, New Jersey. Her father worked as a milkman in the mornings and a carpenter in the afternoons. At the age of sixteen, inspired by Jack Kerouac's On the Road, she traveled to Manhattan to become involved in the Beat scene there.[1]


In 1962, Vega moved to Europe with her husband, painter Fernando Vega. After his sudden death in Spain in 1965, she returned to New York City, and then moved to California. Her first book, Poems to Fernando, was published by City Lights in 1968 as part of their City Lights Pocket Poets Series. During the early-1970s, Vega lived as a hermit on the Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca on the Bolivian-Peruvian border. Out of this self-imposed exile came Journal of a Hermit (1974) and Morning Passage (1976).

Following her return to America, she has published more than a dozen books, including Tracking the Serpent: Journeys to Four Continents (1997) which is a collection of travel writings. Her last book of poetry was The Green Piano, which she then went on to win a Golda Award for. Over the course of her life she would win two of these, and was awarded many grants and awards for her works, including a grant from the Puffin Foundation. [2]

In the 1970s, Vega began working as an educator in schools through various arts in education programs and in prisons through the Incisions/Arts organisation. She has served on the PEN Prison Writing Committee. Pommy Vega was a pioneer of the women's movement in the United States. She had worked to improve the lives, conditions, and opportunities for women in prison.[3] For her efforts and working in prisons, she received a Project Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts which was awarded to winners every year for 20 years after 1988. [4]

Vega had traveled throughout the North American and South American continents, all throughout Europe, including Eastern Europe, countries in the Middle East, often alone. She made friends everywhere, approaching all on the same, basic, human level, with love and compassion.[5]

Personal life and death[edit]

By 2006, Vega was living near Woodstock. She spent the last 11 years of her life with poet Andy Clausen. [6]

Janine Pommy Vega died peacefully of a heart attack at her home in Willow, New York on December 23, 2010.[7][8]


  • The Green Piano
  • The Walker
  • Mad Dogs of Trieste: New & Selected Poems
  • Tracking the Serpent
  • The Road to Your House Is A Mountain Road
  • Red Bracelets
  • Threading the Maze
  • Island of the Sun
  • Drunk on a Glacier, Talking to Flies
  • Skywriting
  • Apex of The Earth's Way
  • The Bard Owl
  • Journal of a Hermit & Under The Sky
  • Here at the Door
  • Morning Passage
  • Poems to Fernando


  1. ^ a b Grimes, William (January 2, 2011). "Janine Pommy Vega, Restless Poet, Dies at 68". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Vega, Janine Pommy (2005), The Green Piano: New Poems, David R. Godine, Publisher. ISBN 1-57423-207-X
  3. ^ “Janine Pommy Vega .” The Museum of American Poetics, Napalm Health Spa, 2013, www.poetspath.com/napalm/_special_edition_nhs_2013/Vega1.htm.
  4. ^ Janine Pommy Vega Web Site, www.janinepommyvega.com/grants.htm.
  5. ^ “Janine Pommy Vega.” David R. Godine, Publisher, David R. Godline, www.godine.com/book-author/janine-pommy-vega/.
  6. ^ Halleck, Deedee. “Janine Pommy Vega Died Yesterday.” Hand Held Visions, 24 Dec. 2010, deedeehalleck.blogspot.com/2010/12/janine-pommy-vega-died-yesterday.html.
  7. ^ "Janine Pommy Vega". janinepommyvega.com. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  8. ^ Hortillosa, Summer Dawn (January 5, 2011). "Union City poet Janine Pommy Vega, 68, dies after suffering heart attack". NJ.com.
  9. ^ "Janine Pommy Vega Web Site". www.janinepommyvega.com. Retrieved 2019-04-30.

External links[edit]