John La Greca

Homeless Memorial
Poems from the Streets of Vernon

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John La Greca is Canada’s Charles Bukowski, writing with deep and at times blistering honesty and humour of a side of Okanagan culture never seen in tourist brochures. For nearly fifty years, he has been our greatest poet of the streets. For all this time, he has lived with a mind given many diagnoses, including schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder. He has been in and out of care since 1967, surviving on inadequate government and community support, drawn by poverty, curiosity and community into close relationships with homeless and disenfranchised people on the margins of society. Out of these circumstances, he has grown in strength, compassion and stature. As the streets where he spends his days and much of his nights have become increasingly the realm of a drug culture, he has struggled against an increasing sense of alienation from home. Homeless Memorial is John’s remarkable record of a city he knows better than anyone else, which he places within the context of his extensive readings of history and world society.

Until now, only a very few trusted friends have seen any of John’s poems. His close friend, the painter Sveva Caetani, was one, and urged him continually to share this remarkable record of a mind and heart never dulled and pushed to an honesty and awareness few ever approach. He brought these poems to poet and Vernon Public Library writer in residence Harold Rhenisch two years ago. Since then, Harold has become the keeper of John’s boxes of poems, and John and Harold have worked to put together this remarkable and unique record of one man’s piercing, honest, hard-won and inspiring sanity.

Homeless Memorial is an affirmation of the power of art, a testament to love, and a challenge to any conception that considers schizophrenia or poverty as limiting handicaps on the spirit.

ISBN 978-1-77171-275-0
132 Pages
6 x 9
Now available

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