Combining his own poetry with Michael O’Brien‘s photography of the homeless Tom Waits will be releasing his first book Hard Ground in March next year. Inspired by Let Us Now Praise Famous Men a collaboration between the poet James Agee and photographer Walker Evans depicting the lives of depression era share croppers, Hard Ground will be published by The University Of Texas. The publisher has said that “[O’Brien will] 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.”
Waits who has said before that ‘Poetry is a very dangerous word,’ preferring to describe his music as “an improvisational adventure or an inebriational travelogue” overcame his aversion to “the stigma that comes with being called a poet,” so as to communicate the “common humanity” of people who live on the streets.
Where the past is littered with bullshit poetry from musicians who fancy themselves as laureate’s, Billy Corgan‘s miserable tripe and Jim Morrison‘s mindless work springing to mind, Waits does seem to have the ring of authenticity about him a songwriter needs to make the jump from the stage to the page.
The first collaborative work between the two, O’Brien has nevertheless taken photos of Waits in the past, shooting the cover of his most recent album Glitter & Doom Live.