Esther  Altshul  Helfgott:  The Homeless  One

intro part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 bio/references comments/reviews

The Homeless One Continues


Author Biography

Esther Altshul Helfgott is a poet and writing teacher with a doctorate in history from the University of Washington. She edits the on-line literary anthology The Psychoanalytic Experience: Analysands Speak and is working on a biography of the late Viennese-born Seattle child psychoanalyst, Edith Buxbaum.

Shelter, as a practical reality and as a metaphor for living in community, is at the core of Esther's thinking. She views the page as a haven, not for the purpose of hiding, but as a means of cultivating that place within the self that works most effectively to bring about real and metaphorical shelter - regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual preference to all who live among us - the homeless, the mentally ill, the disabled, the different, the old ...

Esther is the founding coordinator of Seattle's popular It's About Time Writers Reading Series where beginning and experienced writers and poets read their work. As a writer and teacher, Esther views the reading series as a shelter for self-expression and healing, a way to share one's inner self (outside a therapy room) with others, a place where language-masons maintain contact with each other so they can contribute to an on-going dialogue for progress--and for peace within the self and in the world. Esther can be reached at or visit her web page at



Great thanks and kudos to Rudolf Suesske for bringing The Homeless One  back into the public eye. Grateful acknowledgement is made to The Seattle Times for permission to use an excerpt from "New Shelter to Aid Homeless Women" by J.Martin McOmber, December 17, 1998; Real Change: Puget Sound's Newspaper of the Poor and Homeless for an excerpt from "SHARE Coffee Under Fire," by Michele Marchand, vol.6 #16, August 1999; Ron Konzak for excerpts from "Pro-Housing: A New Way to Think About Affordable Housing," Bainbridge Island, WA, 1999.

For their comments and support I thank Sheila Bender, June Chaus, Nikki Coyote, Ruth A. Fox, Anitra L. Freeman, Irene Drennan, Lauren Kaushansky, Priscilla Long, Ted McMahon, Jo Nelson, Paula Rosner, Anne Sweet, Diane Westergaard, Koon Woon and, especially, Genevieve Beach, Crysta Casey and Ellen. Mistakes and misjudgments are mine. I am most grateful to my publisher, Kara Jones at KotaPress, whose belief in this project came early on and to Harry Jones for his sensitive art work.

I thank my children, Jackie, Ian, Scott and Lisa and my husband, Abe Schweid. Most of all, I thank my mother, Anna Helfgott (1899-1996), and my father, Iser Helfgott (1899-1964) who, with all their troubles, made me a home.


  Suggested Reading [will be updated]

Acocella, Joan, ed. The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky: Unexpurgated Edition. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.

Barnes, Mary and Joseph Berke. Two Accounts of A Journey Through Madness., New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971.

Barnes, Mary with Ann Scott. Something Sacred: conversations, writings, paintings. London: Free Associations Press, 1989.

Casey, Crysta. Heart Clinic, Seattle: Bellowing Ark, 1993.

Naomi Feil. Validation: How to Help Disoriented Old-Old. Cleveland, Ohio: Edward Feil Productions, 1992

Glasser, Irene. Homelessness in Global Perspective. New York: Macmillan, 1994.

Greenberg, Joanne. I Never Promised You A Rose Garden. New York: New American Library, 1984.

Homeless, Joe. My Life on the Street: Memoirs of a Faceless Man. Far Hills, New Jersey: New Horizon Press, 1994.

James, Marie. (As Told to Jane Hertenstein). The Memoir of a Chicago Bag Lady, Cornerstone Press, 1997.

Jencks, Christopher. The Homeless. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995

Kozol, Jonathan. Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America. New York: Random House 1989.

Kaysen, Susanna. Girl Interrupted. New York: Turtle Bay Books, 1993.

Lachenmeyer, Nathaniel. The Outsider: A Journey into My Father s Struggle with Maddness. New York: Broadway Books, 2000.

Laird, Carobeth. Limbo: A Memoir About Life in a Nursing Home by a Survivor. Novato, CA.: Chandler and Sharpe, 1979.

Liebow, Elliot. Tell Them Who I Am: The Lives of Homeless Women. New York: Free Press, 1993.

Little, Margaret I. Psychotic Anxieties and Containment: A Personal Record of an Analysis with Winnicott. Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson, 1985.

Lyden, Jacki. Daughter of the Queen of Sheba. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.

Neugeboren, Jay. Imagining Robert: My Brother, Madness and Survival: A Memoir. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1997.

Neugeboren, Jay. Transforming Madness: New Lives for People Living with Mental Illness. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1999.

North, Carol, M.D. Welcome Silence: My Triumph Over Schizophrenia. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.

Pugh, Deborah and Jeanie Tietjen. I Have Arrived Before My Words: Autobiographical Writings of Homeless Women. Alexandria, Virginia: Charles River Press, 1997.

Rubin, Theodore Isaac. Cat. New York: Ballantine, 1965.

Sechehaze, Marguerite. Autobiography of A Schizophrenic Girl. New York: Grune and Stratton, 1951.

Schiller, Lori and Amanda Bennett. The Quiet One: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness. New York: Warner Books, 1994.

Seattle, City of: Resolutions on Homelessness. Office of the Mayor, Seattle, WA.

Sheehan, Susan. Is There No Place On Earth For Me? New York: Vintage, 1983.

Stringer, Lee. Grand Central Winter: Stories From the Street. New York: Seven Stories Press, 1998.

Susko, Michael A., Ed. Cry of the Invisible: Writings from the Homeless and Survivors of Psychiatric Hospitals. Baltimore, Md.: Conservatory Press, 1991.

Torrey, E. Fuller, M.D. Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual, Revised Edition. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.

Winchester, Simon. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. New York: Harper Collins, 1998.

Woon, Koon. The Truth in Rented Rooms. New York: Kaya Press, 1998.


Internet Guide [updated Febr.-2005]

Seattle University

American Bar Association Commission on Homelessness and Poverty

National Coalition for the Homeless

National Institute of Mental Health

National Homelessness Links

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

National Resource Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness

North American Street Newspaper Association (NASNA)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Seattle Resources

YWCA of Seattle - Ending Homelessness

Northwest Harvest

Seattle Community Network - Homeless

YouthCare, Seattle

Bibliography link to books on Seattle WTO


The Homeless One: A Poem in Many Voices. Seattle: Kota Press, 2000 was performed as a play in the following venues


North Seattle Community College, Drama Department, Feb. 23, 2001

WHEEL Women's Empowerment Center, Opening, Seattle, Aug. 17, 2000  

May West Fest for Women Playwrights, Seattle, July 2000

Barnes and Noble University Village, Seattle, July 14, 2000

Antioch University Breakfast for Homeless Women, Seattle, June 15, 2000             

Wit's End Book Store Back Stage Theatre, Seattle, April 4, 2000 -Ruth Fox and Lauren Kauchansky,  Directors & Adapters



intro part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 bio/references comments/reviews

The Homeless One Continues


Copyrightę2003, 2004: Esther Altshul Helfgott

originally published by Kota Press, Seattle, WA. 1999, 2000

Cover graphics and design by Harry Jones



Esther Altshul Helfgott's Home Page  and see also



Webdesign: Rudolf Suesske: June 2004