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service to the forgotten

There is something special happening when Bruce Springsteen credits your book as his muse. That is what Pulitzer-prize winners photographer Michael S. Williamson and author Dale Maharidge experienced when they heard Springsteen had cited their book Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass as his late-night inspiration for composing “Youngstown” and “The New Timer“. In October, the paperback version of Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great Depression was released. Their latest effort illustrates the crisis of poverty and homelessness across America with heartbreaking clarity. Their chronicle gives voice to those that have been forgotten; Springsteen wrote the foreword.

Someplace Like AmericaNow that the election has been decided, our attention turns to avoiding yet another fiscal cliff. However, for those in deindustrilized professions the ground has already broken away beneath their feet. Maharidge and Williamson cover the disastrous crisis of poverty and homelessness across this country with a carefully crafted mix of compassion and brutal honesty. Their long-time partnership began at The Sacramento Bee in Sacramento, California. Dale describes their first meeting in Chapter One of Someplace Like America where they had just finished covering a local fire:

“No one died in the fire. There was time before we had to file. Michael drove us to a Wendy’s on Freeport Boulevard and parked in back. Hobos sat on the other side of a chain-link fence in the Western Pacific rail yard. This prompted Michael to talk about a photographic essay that he wanted to do on winos. …Michael and I made a pact that day at the Wendy’s to document stories ignored by most others in the media-about the poor, workers, outcasts. I’d write and he’d shoot. Michael was twenty-three; I was twenty-four.”

And so they have.

Follow Maharidge and Williamson on facebook. Williamson regularly posts images from his travels across the country.

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Maharidge photograph
© Jessica Bruder

Dale Maharidge is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist best known for his collaborations with photographer Michael Williamson. Williamson, is an American photojournalist whose work has been awarded two Pulitzer Prizes. With writer Maharidge, he co-authored the book And Their Children After Them, which received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1990. It was conceived as a revisiting of the places and people depicted in Walker Evans‘s and James Agee‘s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Reared in Ohio, Maharidge was a staff writer for The Plain Dealer and the Sacramento Bee. Maharidge has also contributed to publications ranging from Rolling Stone to the New York Times. Williamson has been a staff photographer for the  Sacramento Bee and the Washington Post. The pair have traveled and lived among the rural poor as they documented the underside of American prosperity.

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This entry was posted on November 10, 2012 by in guest bloggers, of service and tagged , , , , .

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