In Memoriam: Julia Vinograd (1943-2018)

I was about nine years old when I first met Berkeley, CA native and poet Julia Vinograd, who just died at the age of seventy-five. A year or so before our meeting, I’d seen her picture on the cover of one of her books of poetry my parents had laying around the house. She looked so unique and sincere in the photo and in real life, a lone woman blowing bubbles everywhere she went.

One day on (most likely) Telegraph Avenue, around late 1975/early ’76, I told Julia about seeing her on the cover of a book. She replied matter of factly, “That was me,” and blew another bubble. Shortly after this on another occasion while again walking along, but on Shattuck or a street other than Telegraph, she asked my parents for directions, looking vulnerable. “I’m lost,” she said with a frown and sad puppy eyes. My folks gave her directions to wherever she’d requested. She then limped away in her long skirt and ever-present leather cap with pin-on buttons attached to it.

At yet another time in 1976 or early ’77 in Berkeley, I saw Julia read at a large gathering of poets, a short-statured woman with a long, dark braid down her back, leather cap in place. She stood before the mic looking small yet focused and determined. I remember only her over and above all of the other poets who read that evening.

Julia was a shy, expressive loner who cultivated her eccentricity with a sense of dignity and fun, all of which I could very much relate to being in my own ways, odd fairy child that I was. She was a Berkeley icon. I’m glad I got to meet her and witness her fun bubbles in 1970s downtown Berkeley. May Julia Vinograd rest in peaceful eternity, blowing bubbles while floating happily on a big one of her own as she recites poetry to the universe.

5 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Julia Vinograd (1943-2018)

  1. What a wonderful memory for you to cherish of this special woman and the picture you’ve created of her eternity is one every one of us can only hope for. Thanks again for sharing your heartfelt thoughts. You’ve certainly warmed my heart in this one. Great picture!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a cool, eccentric person. You got to meet a lot of those, I guess! I know my husband did too, here in MA, in the 1970s before his mom became her now sedate and ladylike self. The intellectuals, artists, radicals, and eccentrics made quite an impact on him. It sounds like Julia did on you. I didn’t read all the poems on the site with many (link below), but my throat tightened at “Ginsberg” and I adored “Poetry As A Street Hustler.” (Put me in mind of Marianne Moore’s “Poetry”.) I think I shall read the rest of Vinograd’s work later; it intrigues me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jazz. I like to let the world know how my cool elders positively affected me and leave some nice words to help immortalize them in the collective psyche. Thank you for the link to Ms. Vinograd’s poetry.
      Sometime before Julia died, she wrote a poem about how she would like (and not like) to be remembered. It was a clever and pretty piece. She was a light-filled soul who touched mine during the brief moments I actually saw her.


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