The Street Writer's Manifesto

George Wynn
I bring to your notice that I exist to chronicle the plight of the outsider. With this affirmation the street writer joins the humanistic community in striving to improve social conditions. It does not matter whether the writer is a beginner or experienced. What matters is that you sit entranced over your journal. It will do you good. After concentrated reflection, the street writer, with pen or pencil, must advocate a charged passion for the homeless and the underclass.

On paper, the street belongs to the writer. And you must make the most of it. Your adrenaline must have great force equal to the intensity of Dizzy Gillespie blowing his horn and busting his chops! You must be as observant as if you lived on a roof with a telescope. If it’s cold, how freezing? If it’s hot, how sweltering? If the victims are lonely, how desperate? If they’re reeling, how dizzy? How many cobwebs?

There needs to be a strong element of social realism in order to genuinely expose the sensibilities of the affected population and the politics of homelessness. The indignities of the down-and-outs may be expressed fictionally or non-fictionally or in whatever form you feel most comfortable.

Be fresh. Be original. Heed Langston Hughes’ advice: “Dump your books overboard,” and partake of a new adventure. Don’t be embarrassed. Be hawk-eyed. “It is the absolute right of the writer to stare,” declared Jack London.

The street writer is less concerned with language or finding the gem word than the overall content or gestalt. Craft is less necessary than commitment, for craft is often gimmicky, inauthentic. On the contrary, salt of the earth observations strike a heartfelt human chord.

Thematically, the Kafkaesque terrors of life are brought to light but not the pessimism. You must not let it get you down. The task of the street writer is to breathe life and hope into himself and others. There is no time for drivel or banality. Affected, inane, pretentious writing is taboo. The direction your writing must take is showing that there is actually something living emotionally and spiritually in the people society has turned their back on.

You should never be out of earshot of the real and the imaginative. Let your anima, your poetic feminine muse, be your guide. Describe the wasteland of comfortless, makeshift habitats of dead nights. Try to capture the dead-end streets and the throbbing, living hearts of the benumbed, the tuned-out, the rejected, who roam restlessly across the land; and the whistling buses and railway freight cars from whence they come. Portray the others who are self-imprisoned in endless depression within the confines of their native turf.

Society is busy. It has no time to see the down-and-outs; therefore they stay ignored. You, Madame and Monsieur Street Writer, must illuminate their faces, their aspirations and dreams of sleep-warm beds, their familial ambitions. Only when the public is made aware can they begin to change their point of view.

Let your words echo, Street Writer! Echo with the weeps and screams of the human beings adversely affected by the proliferation of shelters. Say it directly, say it symbolically. Just do it!

Clap your hands, Aha. Yeah, Right on!

Excerpted from the book "Back to the Streets"; ISBN: $12.95

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About George Wynn

Some Information

George Wynn, a native San Franciscan, has been writing for the street papers of North America for over seven years.  In 1997, he won first prize in the Boston street paper Spare Change's essay writing contest.  His first book, The Gift:Tenderloin Poems was published in 2002.

Elizabeth McCracken, Author of The Giant's House says, "George Wynn writes with toughness, sympathy, and great  humor about difficult things and dire situations, and wonderfully about the redeeming qualities of literature and human kindness.  He makes invisible people visible and throws likgh in the darkest of places."