- By Tom Waits Michael O'Brien

Hard Ground

  • Title: Hard Ground
  • Author: Tom Waits Michael O'Brien
  • ISBN: 9780292726499
  • Page: 236
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Hard Ground Michael O Brien got out of his car one day in and sought the acquaintance of a man named John Madden who lived under an overpass Their initial contact grew into a friendship that O Brien chronicl

    Michael O Brien got out of his car one day in 1975 and sought the acquaintance of a man named John Madden who lived under an overpass Their initial contact grew into a friendship that O Brien chronicled for the Miami News, where he began his career as a staff photographer O Brien s photo essays conveyed empathy for the homeless and the disenfranchised and won two RobertMichael O Brien got out of his car one day in 1975 and sought the acquaintance of a man named John Madden who lived under an overpass Their initial contact grew into a friendship that O Brien chronicled for the Miami News, where he began his career as a staff photographer O Brien s photo essays conveyed empathy for the homeless and the disenfranchised and won two Robert F Kennedy Journalism Awards In 2006, O Brien reconnected with the issue of homelessness and learned the problem has grown exponentially since the 1970s, with as many as 3.5 million adults and children in America experiencing homelessness at some point in any given year.In Hard Ground, O Brien joins with renowned singer songwriter Tom Waits, described by the New York Times as the poet of outcasts, to create a portrait of homelessness that impels us to look into the eyes of people who live on the hard ground and recognize our common humanity For Waits, who has spent decades writing about outsiders, this subject is familiar territory Combining their formidable talents in photography and poetry, O Brien and Waits have crafted a work in the spirit of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, in which James Agee s text and Walker Evans s photographs were coequal, mutually independent, and fully collaborative elements Letting words and images communicate on their own terms, rather than merely illustrate each other, Hard Ground transcends documentary and presents independent, yet powerfully complementary views of the trials of homelessness and the resilience of people who survive on the streets.

    1 thought on “Hard Ground

    1. I bought this because Tom Waits wrote poetry with photographer Michael O'Brien for it. Waits I know through his music as an advocate for the down and out. I had actually been looking for one of the books with photographs of Waits, but they are expensive or out of print and my library system doesn't have them, either. So I stumbled across this and ordered it.I am guessing more people know Waits than O'Brien, but the photographs are the centerpiece of this collection, and they are intimate and hea [...]

    2. Has the distinction of being the first book to make me cry in about three years. In public, no less. It was the statements from the homeless subjects that did it (they can be found in the back of the book.) It surprised me how many of them described being homeless for reasons other than drug or alcohol use, extraordinary hardship or extreme loss. As one woman put it: 'I don't have drug or alcohol problems. I'm just a divorcee.'And the poems by Tom Waits aren't bad:'CardsI guess some of us justGe [...]

    3. A portrait of homelessness comprised of simple yet powerful black and white photographs by Michael O'Brien combined with poems by musician Tom Waits. Many of the photographs were taken in Austin (the author has a nice mention of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, an organization I work with that distributes meals to the homeless throughout the city), and a highlight is the Notes section at the back of the book that provides further information on the individuals whose portraits were taken.

    4. Oh, this beautiful book. Michael O'Brien's black and white Polaroid portraits are at once gorgeous and painful, a close-up view of men, women, and children that we mostly try never to see at all. It's why the book is important. Each person stares out as us, earnestly, and how can we not love them?In the introduction, "Who Was John Madden?" O'Brien tells the story of starting out as a photographer for the The Miami News, catching sight one day during his regular routine of a homeless man he was t [...]

    5. Photographer Michael O’Brien’s first exposure to homelessness came in the form of a friendship with a grizzled old drunk named Madden. Working for the Miami Herald in the seventies, the young O’Brien saw Madden under an overpass one evening on an unrelated assignment, and when the internal questions and concerns reached a critical mass, he decided to do the simplest thing in the world - strike up a conversation. A single portrait photograph began an unusual friendship, one with a lesson fo [...]

    6. If you want to sabotage a conversation about homelessness, you need only demonize poverty or romanticize it. Art is a hopeless romantic, and she is therefore dangerous, which makes me wonder if Hard Ground will be remembered as only a poignant collection of photographs and poems instead of a harbinger of change for the homeless--that only the already sympathetic will sympathize and the rest will treat this volume like an especially sad, pretty book based on a true story.O'Brien's prefacing parag [...]

    7. Arresting images in the tradition of Richard Avedon's American West portraits (O'Brien even used a bulky old camera complete with a black cloth for the photographer to duck under). I wished he had drawn a little more out from his subjects; their personal narratives are relegated to a Notes section in the back, and their stories are much more interesting than the maudlin hobo poetry of Tom Waits that's intermingled throughout. I write that as someone who loves Tom Waits, but this this is not his [...]

    8. This is a powerful book of photographs. There are a few notes at the end where some of the people give more of their story, and Michael O'Brien (the photographer) gives an account of the man who was the inspiration for the project at the beginning of the book. However, most of the book is just photos. Portraits of people who have or have had hard lives, and who shouldn't be forgotten.Poems by Tom Waits are interspersed through the book. Not all of them are great, but there are several that are a [...]

    9. Easily one of the most powerful books I have experienced. The subject matter is not easy but the photography captures it with perfection and with a soul that words could never do justice. I came across this initially because of the tie to Tom Waits, who contributes some solid poetry, but O'Brien's photography is the standout. This is a book every person should see and feel. I can't give it higher praise.

    10. This book is of course good for coffee tables with its detailed photography and poetry. The pictures are very strong, a bit too strong at times for me. It offers a very different perspective. Try it.

    11. The pictures were fantastic and the stories interesting. The poems were okay and didn't seem to add much to the book.

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