Jack White’s favourite Third Man Records event? The Contributor’s homeless poetry reading

Following an endorsement from world-conquering pop queen Taylor Swift, Nashville street paper The Contributor has found another top celebrity supporter.

Photo: Doug Lehmann

Through his Third Man Records (TMR) label, Jack White has published a collection of poetry by the homeless and formerly-homeless people who sell the paper.

And TMR is giving all the proceeds from the first print run to The Contributor.

The book – Acknowledge: An Anthology of Selected Poems from The Contributor – was launched last week at a packed reading in TMR’s own performance space.

“Jack White was there and he was so kind to our vendors and so generous with his time. He’s a very humble person, especially considering his credentials and status in the creative community,” said The Contributor’s editor Skip Anderson.

“He was so supportive of our poets, and of our mission and everything we do. It meant a lot.

“His team called afterwards to say that the reading was quite possibly Jack’s favourite event they’ve held at Third Man Records since it opened six years ago.”

The Contributor's vendor poets Photo: Doug Lehmann

Jessie F. (bottom left in the photo above) was one of the poets who read on the night. She is currently homeless in Nashville and sells The Contributor to support herself.

She said: “It went great. I had a wonderful, beautiful, extraordinary time. It was phenomenal. The Third Man staff were so very kind to us.

“If we can have a connection through art between homeless people and people who have homes, maybe we can find even more camaraderie too.”

Third Man’s Joshua Gillis edited the Contributor poetry book. He said: “Working with The Contributor vendors was meaningful to TMR in three major ways. We were able to honour their hard work, dignify their poetry, and work together with the institution that continues to provide the tools vendors need to improve their lives.

“The show was a complete success. We raised double what we expected, and shared their perspectives locally and nationally with the release of this book. We look forward to our next partnership.”

Skip said the Contributor team was delighted to see many new supporters in the crowd last Saturday – he believes that TMR’s support has helped them to attract a new, younger fanbase.

“They were all so interested and engaged in what we do. I shook a lot of hands!” he added.

You can buy your copy of Acknowledge: An Anthology of Selected Poems from The Contributor here.