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Judy Jones Interview about her book; 'The Bones of the Homeless'

           "ON THE ROAD WITH JUDY!"

                            

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                       The Bones of the Homeless
                                                           by Judy Jones

                                                                 


               Ode to Janis Joplin
                                       by Judy Jones
         




   
                                                            
        
                  
 

                            

 

                 

                  

 

                            

                                             "JOIN HEARTS & HANDS!"
                                                http://www.joinheartsandhands.com





                         "JULIA VINOGRAD"

                                POET

                                  1943  - 

                              by judy jones   

               

                 

                                                   

                                  "the writing of poetry is one thing.  it's an obsession, the scratching of a divine itch."   maxine kumin

                                         






 

 

         "JULIA VINOGRADS POETRY

           PUTS TRUTH IN OUR LIES!"

                               by Judy Jones




               

JULIA:

  "Wanna buy one of my books?'

 

ME:

"What kind?"

 

JULIA:

"Poetry"

 

ME:

 "Uh er, well let me think about it"

 

JULIA:

 "Only three bucks"

 

Julia Vinograd sounded more like 

 a carnival barker than a poet whose

published 48 books of her poetry. 

She is "The Berkeley Street Poet",

also known as   'The Bubble Lady".

 

ME:

"Yeah ok, why not.    If I can't

understand it I'm not out lots of money. 

Only three bucks.  Your books look

pretty simple"  I said flipping thru the pages.

 

Poetry was something for Harvard Graduates

not me.  In high school we took apart

and dissected an Edgar Allen Poe poem

and were given a grade. The experience 

was so disgusting I avoided poetry ever since.

 

Julia Vinograds poetry changed all that.

made me feel.  Yup, her poems made me

feel and feeling made sense.  Getting a

grade for dissecting an Edgar Allen Poe

poem didn't


 

In fact  'feeling'  made me want to read

more poetry. Julias poems turn me on. 

Me a simple minded right brained artist

turned on by poetry!   And its because

of her poems.  She writes for the people,

real people.

 

A new door opened in my mind and

I now considered myself  'refined'.

I enjoyed the luxury of verse.

 

Since I lived around the corner from

the Cafe Mediterranian on Telegraph

Avenue in Berkeley where Julia Vinograd

hangs her hat, over the next couple years

I ran into her often. I would see her draggin'

her crippled leg up steep bus steps that are

hard for even the most able bodied person,

moreless one in braces .

 

Cruel bus drivers demanded  'Show me

your bus pass!'  before Julia even had

a chance to reach the top of the steps!

 

I learned never to say hello to Julia. 

She didn't say 'Hi' back...instead..

"Wanna buy one of my books?"

Mostly I did, but  never had money

being a starving painter.

 

Julia is the most single focused artist I

have ever met.  Driven.. And her focus

is on one thing, her poetry. Like she has

a 1000 watt light bulb inside her turned

up to high and the rest of us are operating

on 50-75 watts max.

 

"The Stripdown Journey to God", 

that's what I call our lives and

Julia Vinograd is three fourths 'Bare'.

 

Asking Julia if she would be interviewed for

http://www.ontheroadwithjudy.com

Her reply was: 

     "If you buy four of my books."

 

"Sounds fair enough"  I replied.  "So it's a deal?"

 

"Yup"  Julia answered.

 

"I'll email you the questions"  I said.

 

"Nope"  quipped Julia over the phone. 

 "I don't own a computer."

 

"Well"  I said,  "I'll snailmail them."

 

"Nope"   Julia answered.      "I don't

answer letters".

 

"Shall we meet oncemore at the 

Cafe Mediterainne on Telegraph Avenue

to do the interview?"   I asked.

 

Our last meeting was several years ago

when I invited Julia to read her poetry

 at the International Arts/Music show

 I was putting on at the Cafe Mediterainne.

 

"Ok!"  Julia said excitedly.  After all, the

 cafe is her second home!

 

The following is our conversation, kinda.

I'm not good in person with people......

been called a "Social Idiot" so I confess

much of this interview came from Julia's

eighteen page autobiography she graciously lent me.

*******************************************

********************************

 

ME:

"Julia you are a shining example of

 a woman whose thrown away 

her 'Eyelash Curler' and 'High Heels'  

(well your brace took care of the heels huh).  

But you are everything I have wanted to

become and more."

 

"How have you ignored Societies pleas of  

"Marry, Spit out Babies, Cook,  Clean  and 

Spit out More Babies?"

 

JULIA:

"I can't even take care of a fish.  

 But I do love children, I really do."

 

ME:

"You've given birth to 48 books of

poetry which will live much longer than

any children, been in several anthologies,

and have three CD's of verse out in the world."

 

JULIA:

"Yeah,  I've been busy."

 

Photo of Julia's parents

 

ME:

"Were your parents artists?"

 

JULIA:

"My Mother wrote poetry but  expected

me to write the strong wry understated

style where you don't know your throat's

until you have trouble buttoning your collar. 

She had the beginnings of Multiple Sclerosis

and one day my Mother stopped dying."

 

ME:

"Stopped dying?"

 

JULIA:

"She was in a convalescent home and

every six months they would call my sister

and I to tell us to rush out and say goodbye

to our Mother." 

 

"We got on the plane and by the time

we arrived she would drift off

and in the morning would be better."

 

"For ten years this went on.  I jumped

everytime the phone rang.  Even bought

a candle at the flea market in the shape of

an old fashioned telephone and stuck pins in it."

 

ME:

"Julia why do you limp?"

 

Photo of Julia Vinograd as young girl

 

 

JULIA:

"Had polio as a child and had an operation. 

The legs are different lengths." 

"Also had grandmal epileptic seizures for

about fifteen years and managed not to think

about it.  Now I'm on medication that controls

the seizures.

 

"The epilepsy kept me from experimenting

with drugs and the polio got me on ssi for

fifteen years like most of the street people

I write about."

 

ME:

"And your Father?"

 

JULIA: 

"He was a professor of biochemistry

at Caltech.  I saw him mostly at breakfast

when he talked centrifuges, recombinant

DNA and late at night when we would raid

the refrigerator."

 

ME: 

"Other relatives?"

 

JULIA:  

"My sister Debbie who is seven years

younger than me.  She is a painter and

we live close by each other.  We talk

on the phone everyday..I read her my

new poems and go see her latest paintings. 

She and her boyfriend are a stable place

in my life and I use her drawings in my books."

 

Photo of  'Grandpa Ben'  Julias Grandfather

 

ME:

"Julia why do you write poetry?"

 

JULIA:

"Nothing is real to me until I write

about it.  My life hurts or glows but its

only a jumble until I shape it with words."

"Grandpa Ben, Mother's father was the most

important member of our family.  And it was

his bookcase that got me hooked on books. 

I was forbidden to touch it.  His bookcase

had a tall glass front and was kept locked up."

 

"So I waited till everyone was asleep and

stood on a chair that always creaked and

threatened to tip over and stole the key

from a candy dish on top of the bookcase

and took a book to bed.  Most of the pages

hadn't been cut, so I took a knife as well."

 

"I remember the fierce possessive feeling

of slicing the pages.  These were virgin books. 

I was going where no reader had gone before. 

I haven't changed much."

 

" I eat and stain the pages, break the spine,

do everything we were warned against.  I started

out my reading career as a rapist with a knife,

and if I take a book to bed with me it remembers

my name in the morning."

 

"For quite a while I didn't even like the

idea that books had authors.  Me and all

those characters were so close it seemed

an intrusion for someone I'd never met

 to have seen them first."

 

ME:  

Who are your favorite poets?

 

JULIA:

"In high school I discovered Yeats and

spent a year writing bad imitations."

"Theres nothing so dangerous as a great poet..

I knew even then my own voice would be

very different but I wanted that lush music

inside me against the dry seasons.  I was like a

python swallowing a harp."

 

ME:

"How did  you wind up in Berkeley?"

 

JULIA:

"Since my mother had been a college

English professor it was vaguely assumed 

I'd be one too.  I went to UC Berkeley and

got arrested in the Free Speech Movement."

 

"I wanted a voice of my own.  I never did

get a voice from poetry.  My voice came

from what I needed to say and it came out

as poetry."

 

"I got my BA from there and went to

Iowa Writer's Workshop for a Masters

of Fine Arts."

 

ME:

"When did you return to Berkeley Julia?"

 

JULIA:

1967 and the world had changed.  When

I left girls looked like secretaries and the

boys like law clerks.  Now everyone had

long hair, bare feet, and bright clothing. 

I was in total culture shock and wanted to

write down everything I saw."

 

ME:

"Didn't Cody's Book store publish some

 of your first books?"

 

JULIA: 

My  first book was put out by

Oynez press and my second was a

chapbook put out by Fred Cody of

Codys Book Store.

 

I rescued my book from the elegant

mortuary of the poetry section in the

bookstore and sold it on the street and

in coffee shops.  I sold 3,500 copies."

 

"I thought avoiding failure meant success..

took years for me to learn if you don't

expect to crash and burn sometimes you'll

never set the world on fire."

 

"Often people would buy one of my

books just to make me go away and later

come back and ask me;  "Are you sure

this is poetry?"    "I actually liked it!"

 

"People that hate poetry liked my books.

 My shorter poems began appearing on

 bathroom walls all over Berkeley."

 

ME  

"Julia how did you become

known as "The Bubblelady"?

 

JULIA:

Peoples Park.  There was going

to be a riot there but I'm a pacificist

and didn't want to throw stones but

was angry and wanted to throw something. 

So I brought two bags filled with bottles

of bubbles and started blowin' em'!

 

"Two cops came up and asked if they

could blow some and we sat together

blowing bubbles.  I started carrying

bubbles everywhere and when I blew

them people would get so happy."

 

"And thus I became known as

"The Bubble Lady" making me an

honorary street person."

 

ME:

"Julia thank you for writing the words I can't."

                                             

Following are four of her poems and

the epitaph Julia Vinograd wrote for herself.

 

 

 

 

 

My Own Epitaph, Which I better Write

Because I Know Too Many Poets

 

When I am dead,

please don't say nice things about me.

I wasn't tall and thin and friendly.

I was short and fat

and I stuttered between silences.

I was me, please don't remember

someone you would rather've known.

Don't just remember the poems I wrote

remember the inconvenient rides I begged

and I always seemed to have a cold

and I was me.

Every one of my toes were mine,

please don't remember someone else's toes.

I often went to the flea market

and bought things that reminded me of me.

I liked mangos, roast beef and science fiction.

Don't just say I was a good listener,

add that you sometimes wondered why.

Don't make me a one dimensional nice

with a tragic story or two

like everyone else.

I wasn't everyone else.

I carried a me black purse

and wore a me black dress

and I had a bad leg so I was usually looking

for a place to sit down.

I didn't smoke or drink or sleep around

and I was too shy

to be a fascinating conversationalist,

but I was very me.

Remember my ringed fingers,

my dirty fingernails,

my mouth playing tennis on the telephone,

the way my leg brace squeaked

when I went up to the microphone

to read a poem.

It was me the sun shone on.

It was me who escaped the suburb

and blew soap bubbles on the street.

It was me whose parents died.

 

 

 

       WORLD TRADE CENTER

 

I am an old woman in a black dress

kneeling in the ruins, clutching my shoulders,

teeth clenched and lips drawn back in a snarl,

rocking back and forth in grief and rage.

I need to tear out my enemy's throat.

The taste of his lifeblood is better than strawberries.

I am kneeling in the ruins of Byzantium.

I am kneeling in the ruins of New York.

I am saying the names of my dead children

over and over, as if they were silver bullets

to shoot at God's smile,

but I want to kill my enemy's children

more than I want my own children back..

My face is twisted and strong.

People in uniforms want me to stand up

and get out of their way.  I ignore them.

The sky's a pillar of smoke above me.

There's a pillar of fire raging inside me.

I clench my shaking old hands into fists.

I need to squeeze my enemy's throat

more than I need to hold lmy lover in the sweet and warm.

His body's in front of me, squashed to a bloody pulp

with fallen metal.

Somebody takes our picture.

I am kneeling in the ruins of Jerusalem.

I am kneeling in the ruins of Ireland.

I am kneeling in the ruins of New York.

I am kneeling in the runis of Stonehenge

that was a city once.

This was a world once

and I was human once but I've forgotten it.

I walk on bloody feet thru war. 

Drying soldiers kneel to me

and I smile.

 

 

THE HOMELESS ARE OUR DIRTY UNDERWEAR

 

We've got to get the tired men

pushing broken shopping carts,

the waddling bag ladies

with plastic flowered raincoats,

and the skinny young kids sparechanging dogfood

for their dog and all her nuzzling puppies

off the street.

Off the street before the bombs fall.

I can't explain the connection

but I remember:

"Suppose you were run over by a truck

and when they undressed you in the morgue

and you were wearing that dirty underwear

in front of everyone

wouldn't you just die of shame?"

So when the bombs fall

everyone must be wearing clean underwear,

good clothes, looking well fed

and happily married in houses with gardens

and swings for the children

even when it isn't true,

hell, especially when it isn't true.

It's a matter of patriotism.

We have to suffer to look good enough for death,

like dressing for a job.

The homeless weren't American enough to live

and they're certainly not American enough to die.

They're such an embarrassment.

Suppose the world ends

and there's still broken shopping carts

in ruined cities?

Suppose the broken shopping carts never

go away?

 

 

 

BREAST CANCER SCARE

 

Kaiser left several messages on my answering machine.

It had been too many years since my last mammogram.

They told me how lucky I was

to be offered yearly mammograms

on their wonderful plan

and they bullied me into an appointment

I finally went, mainly to stop the messages.

The woman who did the mammogram positively chirped

while her big steel machines beat up my breasts

in ways a man could get arrested for.

2 days later I got a call.

They'd found something.

Maybe a cyst, maybe not.

I should come right back to wonderful them

and they'd do an ultrasound.

They'd get me an appointment that afternoon.

That afternoon?  This was Kaiser.

I must be dead.

The living wait at least 2 days.

I freaked.  I called a friend

who told me what to expect

and tried to calm me down.

I got the ultrasound.  It was Friday.

they couldn't show it to the radiologist till Monday.

She'd get in touch with my regular doctor,

I'd probably hear by Wednesday,

have a nice day.

I went home.

Since I was dead I got myself a huge slab

of bittersweet chocolate,

but it tasted like cardboard.

The phone rang.  It was the radiologist

and thought she'd better call me first.

I should come back in 6 months as a formality

but my chart looked benign

and I should also ignore a scare letter I'd get.

When she hung up I started breathing

and the air tasted better than chocolate.

I had my breasts back.

I pulled the shades, stripped to the waist

and closed my eyes.

Everyone, from the red-haired by

who wouldn't talk to me in grade school,

to Mick Jagger, to the young Brando play Stanley

and to Bela Lugosi in his dracula fangs

grabbed my breasts, bit them, sucked and played,

tweaked and kissed them until I moaned.

They held me.  I held me.

I'm old.  My breast sag.

But their mine again, mine.

 

 

 

 

 

I'M A JEW

(after the attack on the Jewish Community Center)

 

A man on tv said

he wants me dead;

I've never seen him before.

 

He shot children to set an example,

just a sample,

he wants others to kill more.

 

Newsmen measure his hate,

roll it thin and test its weight;

they're going to bake a pie

 

not for apples.

Pre-heat the ovens.

Don't cry.

 

 

                  

                             Click on link below to veiw Julia's

                           "Berkeley Lifetime Achievement Award"

  http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil/2004citycouncil/packet/050404/2004-05-04%20Item%2014%20.pdf

                            Julia Vinograd

                  1630 University Avenue, #34

                  Berkeley, CA  94703    U.S.A.  

                       (510) 843.8496   Telephone

                



The Bones of the Homeless
                                                           by Judy Jones

                                                                 


               Ode to Janis Joplin
                                       by Judy Jones
         




Ray Charles bass player Curtis Ohlson
recorded Judy Jones poems on cd

          Available on:
http://www.judyjonesbonesofthehomeless.com

                    Featurning Julia Vinograd

                  
         

 

 

 

                                                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

 






           "ON THE ROAD WITH JUDY!"

                        

                  info@ontheroadwithjudy.com






 

 


                                       

                                        

 

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