photo by Chris Petersson
In his first book, Homeless Souls, Jake Anderson takes us into the heartland of the homeless. Traveling to tent cities, underpasses, and street corners in many of the nation’s cities, he lived with and came to know the men and women he depicts so movingly in a series of photographs reminiscent of Walker Evans’ work during the Great Depression. That they trusted and responded warmly to him is evident in the openness of their expressions and in the candor of the commentary and drawings they created to accompany their portraits. The author’s generosity of spirit and keen eye for detail are also evident in his poems, with which the book begins and ends. The overall effect of Homeless Souls is transformative: it will help others learn for themselves what the author came to understand and express in his introduction: that the homeless deserve more than our pity, since they are “individuals simply existing, surviving, no better or worse than the rest of us.” The transformative power of the book is stressed in the statements made by its previewers. Demetria Martinez of the National Catholic Reporter has written, "This has to be one of the best books on the plight of homeless people that I have ever seen—precisely because we hear from the people themselves, through their poems, statements and drawings. The photographs complete the picture, bearing witness to the courage and determination of those who have been banished from the so-called American dream." James H. Hamm, Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Boston College, has commented as follows: “This collection of photo essays puts a face on the homeless that insists that the viewer move beyond stereotypes of addiction and mental illness. With the decline of the middle class that has been taking place since the 1970’s, an alarming number of people are being reduced to homelessness. Jake's book forces us to come to terms with what is happening in our society and, hopefully, to realize that it does not have to be the way it is.  A wakeup call!”  And this from Zoe Perry-Wood, herself a photographer: “The desperation of lives lived on cold, hard streets—that’s what Jacob Anderson has captured in these photographs taken as he walked the path of the American homeless. Jake has reached out a hand and focused his lens on subject matter that most of us work hard not to see.  The photographs, rough, gritty and hiding nothing, are a brutally truthful study of the vulnerability of lives lived in public spaces: the cracked lips, pleas scrawled on cardboard, and the dull stare of the patient wait for the good will of a passerby.”

In the midst of his work toward a bachelor’s degree in English and Journalism, Jake Anderson became distressed at his own indifference to the homeless. He made a decision to travel the country, investigating with his camera a world he knew nothing of and encouraging those he met to create personal statements. He hopes the book that has resulted will help you travel with him and share his understanding of the homeless who, as he points out, need warm, genuine relationships as much as a place to stay. It comes as no surprise that Jake will be donating 100% percent of all proceeds from the book to organizations supporting the homeless.

Click here for sample photographs of the homeless, their comments/drawings, and a sample poem.

Click here to view Jake Anderson’s upcoming events

Click here to read ancillary material in the Seminar Room


ISBN 978-0-9817883-9-5, copyright © 2009
Length: 96 pages, 6" x 9" paperback 



To the poet Pablo Neruda and the 504 migrants who died
in the Arizona desert summer of 2008

wrinkled shirts
pants socks
hats sweaters
all stiffened
worn by
oven desert

their owners
no more

hear their names

Víctor Nicolás Sánchez. Adolfo Pérez Hernández.
Daniel Barrientos. Santos Orozco Aguilar.
Raúl Hernández Soria. Sandra Edna Durán.
Javier Rojas Bracamonte. Juan José Romo.
Juan Lara Mentado. Zenaido García de Los Santos.

dead from heat exposure

you are so thirsty
you think the sand
is water

you eat it
when you feel your spirit
soaring upwards
your nerves
fire machine guns into you

the clothing on your skin
burning needles
you rip off your garments

la migra
other travelers
or just desert
finds you

stuffed with sand

take five minutes
any direction
and discover
their clothing

come and see the clothes on the paths
come and see
the clothes on the paths
come and see the clothes
on the paths!

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