Piscataway House Publications Announces Alum Hank Kalet’s Hybrid Book
Piscataway House Publications is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of As an Alien in a Land of Promise, a hybrid work of poetry and journalism by Hank Kalet, with photos by Sherry Rubel. The book is due in September.
The book chronicles the lives of the men and women left behind by American capitalism. Left to pitch tents in the woods and survive on donations, they were treated by weeds and trash by a society that equates human value with the ability to generate profits.
Poet BJ Ward says the book pulls the veil of invisibility from the homeless:
In his 1988 book, Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America, Jonathan Kozol interviews a homeless Vietnam veteran named Richard Lazarus. He claims that he and his fellow homeless people “serve another function… It’s like farmers posting scarecrows in the fields. People see these terrifying figures in Penn Station and they know, with one false step, that they could be here too. They think, ‘I better not complain.’
In As An Alien in a Land of Promise, Hank Kalet is intrepid and resolute. He is moved to explore the Tent City homeless enclave of Lakewood, NJ—a community that has been since dismantled. In this rendering, Kalet works in the poetic traditions of the inspired and observant narrator in Whitman’s “The Sleepers” and, with his sense of lineation, Williams’ image-emphasis. Studs Terkel also seems present, as so much of what is said is spoken by the residents of Tent City, but crafted by Kalet.
This is a compelling book, trenchant and urgent, stocked with images and people who returned to me for weeks after reading this manuscript. Hank Kalet is a witness with the empathy to perceive and the craft to depict. He has made Tent City a permanent place for this reader.
Eliot Katz, a poet and former housing advocate, also praised the book:
Hank Kalet is both a very talented poet and a terrific journalist, and in this volume he puts his diverse skills to work in shining a spotlight on the urgent and underreported problem of homelessness in the U.S. Sometimes it takes a combination of powerful art and in-depth reporting to get people to pay more attention to crucial social issues. We can only hope that Kalet’s innovative book, with its inventive mix of objectivist-influenced, journalistic poems and moving photographs, will motivate elected officials and the general public to put more resources into reducing American homelessness and poverty. With Kalet’s artistic lens focused up close on the example of a homeless encampment in Lakewood, NJ, this compelling book brings real, often-ignored human stories, statistics, and local geographies to life. It is essential reading for those who enjoy political art and for those who want to help change our world for the better.
For more information, including how to pre-order, see https://asanalieninalandofpromise.wordpress.com.
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