Feb 12, 2010

Does literature of the homeless exist?

originally published at guardian.uk

I used to see a homeless man perched on a curb out the back of Safeway in Camberwell. Although it looked as if he hadn't had a bath or a square meal in a while, I'm ashamed to say the thing that always elicited the most sympathy from me was that he was a passionate reader. His head was always buried in a book. Any book. Horror, science fiction, romance – he was always reading.

Writing while homeless, however, may be tougher to sustain. Doing it at a desk in a warm room can be hard enough: literature is surely the last thing on your mind when you've no food or money.

According to his book, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, WH Davies managed it. You'd think that the predicament of homelessness would vary little from epoch to epoch – food and shelter being timeless basic human needs – but The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, published more than 100 years ago, reminds us that today's homeless have a whole extra set of problems, including the stigma of being one of society's displaced.  READ MORE....

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