Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Reader's Diary #1131- Kyle Thomas: Yellowknife Street Stories
"Simply the storyteller" is Kyle being— as he always is— humble. Talking with people, mostly homeless, on the streets of Yellowknife, recording snippets from their complex stories and photographing their deceivingly simple smiles, would not have been possible, or at least not have been as honest, without Kyle's humility. You can tell how Kyle has gently guided their conversations to find out where this small fragment of our Yellowknife population has hailed from and clues as to why they came to be here and on the streets and how they are currently surviving. You can tell they trusted Kyle and though I don't know Kyle well— I met him only a couple of times on the small and inconsistent Yellowknife blogging circuit— it does not surprise me.
Besides Kyle's natural charm I am also sure that there must have been a lot of hard work. The people in this book cannot, of course, be condensed to a mere page or 2, and I am sure Kyle collected many more details and anecdotes than presented here. However, he has thoughtfully and skillfully chosen just the right stuff to differentiate between each of these people, destroy the illusion that "street people" must all be cut from the same cloth. Accentuating that theme are his stunning photos. It's remarkable that in almost all of them his subjects are smiling. Most of us with homes have trouble even fathoming finding happiness without one, yet for this moment they are smiling. And even then, Kyle has managed to so honestly depict these people that their differences are obvious. Some seem to smile merely because there's a camera present, some seem to smile to convince themselves that they are happy, and more, thankfully, seem genuinely happy.
There's little editorializing here and Kyle has also not put anyone on a pedestal. He acknowledges in his introduction that he makes no guarantees about the truth of the stories within or of the characterizations people present of themselves. Still, one message is loud and clear, everyone is individual and everyone is human. It's a simply beautiful message, but one we often forget.