The Green Piano:

New Poems

Softcover sale price: $8.00 (Regularly $18.95)

In this, her first collection since the career-spanning Mad Dogs of Trieste (2000), Janine Pommy Vega writes with quiet command of her life and times and of our shared American present. Here are protests against the depravities of the prison system and the Washington war machine––political poems that are fierce yet never strident and that always begin in closely observed human particulars. Here too are tender lyrics about family, lovers, and friends; celebrations of the natural and domestic worlds of upstate New York; and remarkably vivid letters home from spiritual sojourns through Italy, Germany, and the former Yugoslavia. “Vega’s poems reflect a deeply felt and aching knowledge,” wrote Publishers Weekly of her previous collection. “They ‘go’ (as Kerouac said) their own patient, unadorned, and dignified way.”

Honest, passionate, and exhilarating, Janine Pommy Vega brings her own voice to the Beat pilgrimage. She is changed by her journey through the world, and she changes the world through her words.
––American Book Review

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.

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, 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 the Americas, 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.

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.

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.