By Arline Bolvin
From the very beginning, Homeless Souls by Jake Anderson grabs the heart and inevitably creates a shift in one’s perception of people who live outdoors and in shelters across the United States. As a Boston College journalism student, Anderson decides to travel the country with his camera, documenting the homeless along the way and inviting them to write about their lives and feelings. Their poetry depicts lives lost in the searing desert of Arizona, tributes to Dylan, train hoppers, veterans and a beating Anderson took “one blood-thirsty night” – a beating much like those the homeless experience when they are beaten-up “night after night after night after night” in the cities across America.
The heart and soul of the book shines through the words of the homeless themselves. In plain and simple language, they tell of their lives, heartaches, strengths, determination, faith in God, and belief in man. The photos reveal the coarseness of their existence, the cold, stark days and nights when they can find no shelter from the harshness of the elements. Some speak of pain and despair but look to the brighter future to fulfill their hopes. The typical stereotypes of the homeless melt away as the reader learns of their triumph over addiction, their struggles with all types of illness, and the resilience of the women and men who overcome abuse, neglect and still have love and hope. Their blunt voices speak powerfully of their experiences and one feels a true connection with their stories.
With the erosion of the middle class in the 1970s and the economic strife of the these past few years, the homeless are creating tent cities, sleeping under bridge overpasses and in shelters in unprecedented numbers. Anderson’s work enables readers to tangibly feel the realities of the homeless in an unusually honest way.
The transformation Anderson envisions is a time when we see the homeless “as individuals simply existing, surviving. No better or worse than the rest of us.” Each page in the book moves the reader toward this revelation, a transformation of attitude and a transcendence of consciousness.
A portion of the proceeds from this book will support organizations providing care for the homeless. To buy this book and for information on the organizations receiving support and for additional information on the plight of the homeless, please visit www.homelesssouls.com.