Pure Poetry Week(s):
#1 – 2/23/2011 – Intro & Def Poetry Jam, by Riese
#2 – 2/23/2011 – Eileen Myles, by Carmen
#3 – 2/23/2011 – Anis Mojgani, by Crystal
#4 – 2/24/2011 – Andrea Gibson, by Carmen & Katrina/KC Danger
#5 – 2/25/2011 – Leonard Cohen, by Crystal
#6 – 2/25/2011 – Staceyann Chin, by Carmen
#7 – 2/25/2011 – e.e. cummings, by Intern Emily
#8 – 2/27/2011 – Louise Glück, by Lindsay
#9 – 2/28/2011 – Shel Silverstein, by Intern Lily & a 12-year-old boy
#10 – 2/28/2011 – Michelle Tea, by Laneia
#11 – 2/28/2011 – Saul Williams, by Katrina Chicklett Danger
#12 – 3/2/2011 – Maya Angelou, by Laneia
#13 – 3/4/2011 – Jack Spicer, by Riese
#14 – 3/5/2011 – Diane DiPrima, by Sady Doyle
#15 – 3/6/2011 – Pablo Neruda, by Intern Laura
#16 – 3/7/2011 – Vanessa Hidary, by Lindsay
#17 – 3/7/2011 – Adrienne Rich, by Taylor
#18 – 3/8/2011 – Raymond Carver, by Riese
#19 – 3/9/2011 – Rock WILK, by Gabrielle
#20 – 3/9/2011 – Veronica Franco, by Queerie Bradshaw
#22 – 3/12/2011 – William Carlos Williams & Robert Creeley, by Becky
#23 – 3/13/2011 – NSFW Lesbosexy Sunday Knows Sex is Pure Poetry, by Everyone
#24 – 3/13/2011 – Charles Bukowski, by Intern Emily
Charles Bukowski was an old man with a white beard and a pot belly. He drank a lot of beer and stared at girls’ boobs and scratched his butt. Or at least that’s how I picture Charles when I read his most of his poetry.
On the back of my copy of The Pleasures of the Damned, the “definitive volume of Bukowski’s poems” (NYT book review), he is described as a “hard drinking wild man of literature and a stubborn outsider to the poetry world, [who] wrote unflinchingly about booze, work, and women, in raw street-tough poems whose truth has struck a chord with generations of readers”.
The truth is that I’m just writing this because I don’t want to write my essay. I’m actually not really sure if I like Bukowski that much (still deciding), but here are two Bukowski poems that I’m confident that I love a lot.
This is an excerpt from “Verdi”:
I sometimes think of a
less stressful kind of
it can and should be so
like falling asleep
in a chair or
like a church full of
I wish only for that careless love
which is sweet
and which is now
over my head)
there only to serve me
smoke smoke smoke
out of a certain center dressed
in an old brown shirt,
but I am caught under a pile of
poetry is shot in the head
and walks down the alley
pissing on its legs.
friends, stop writing of
in this sky of fire.
This is “when you wait for the dawn to crawl through the screen like a burglar to take your life away” a title which I love a lot:
the snake had crawled the hole,
and she said,
tell me about
I was beaten down
in some alley
and she said,
slapped down some lane,
in the morning.
I also don’t want to write my essay, so here’s a reply, instead. I’m also not sure how I feel about Bukowski. I remember thinking I liked him when I read some of his work in high school, but I also spent too much energy trying to be “one of the boys” with my straight guy friends who seemed to only really get into writing by other mostly-hetero white men with substance abuse issues. My gut feeling is that I wouldn’t enjoy him so much now, and that I maybe didn’t even enjoy his work all that much then.
I did really love the excerpt from “Verdi,” and will probably try to find the whole poem online when I look for further distraction later today.
+10 for your name. I’m working on an NZ bird conservation project.
I fucking love birds. One time I was at ~ 40 ft. (12 m) and a bird swam by so fast I did not see what kind it was. Divers have seen birds on wrecks @ 200 ft (61 m).
This video has a loon swimming with divers:
Oh, and sorry, I do not like Charles Bukowski.
I forgot to reply to your comment, because I and my brain are both awful, but that is so fantastic. Have you done any work with kakapos, or the Kakapo Recovery Programme?
I love his absolute naked form.
My favorite poem by him is “I Met a Genius.”
I met a genius on the train
about 6 years old,
he sat beside me
and as the train
ran down along the coast
we came to the ocean
and then he looked at me
it’s not pretty.
it was the first time I’d
I really enjoy Bukowski’s writing style. I don’t know much about him as a person, or care to be honest. I tend to superimpose my own meaning on poems which is what I think everyone does/should do. I would like to share on of his poems:
I get many phonecalls now.
They are all alike.
“are you Charles Bukowski,
“yes,” I tell them.
and they tell me
that they understand my
and some of them are writers
or want to be writers
and they have dull and
and they can’t face the room
that night —
they want somebody to talk
and they can’t believe
that I can’t help them
that I don’t know the words.
they can’t believe
that often now
I double up in my room
grab my gut
“Jesus Jesus Jesus, not
they can’t believe
that the loveless people
are mine too.
and when I hang up the phone
they think I have held back my
I don’t write out of
when the phone rings
I too would like to hear words
that might ease
some of this.
that’s why my number’s
i kind of didn’t know how I felt about Bukowski for a while, but then I read So You Want To Be a Writer.
And then I was kind of like, alright, be a writer because you want to be, I get that. But I was mostly like, fuck you, don’t tell me what kind of writer to be, don’t tell me I can’t be a writer because I have to try.
So now I know I don’t like him.
i just read that for the first time and it’s interesting how he ends the poem with “there is no other way and there never was”, which kind of contradicts everything he said above it (that thousands of writers are boring and pretentious, etc). because if there is no other way, then how did all of this boring crap get produced?
i think the poem is ironic, in that he actually means the exact opposite of what he’s saying.
but i don’t really know.
you know, i think I was so ready to dislike him that i didn’t really consider that?
which isn’t really fair.
i’d like to think that’s true though. it would make me like him better.
but it doesn’t really feel ironic, you know? but maybe that’s still me not wanting to like him.
i know what you mean. i think i think it’s ironic because i want to like him, because i don’t want him to be the ass-scratching douche he sometimes comes across as.
I’m not quite there yet with his poetry but I love his books and short stories – my favorite. (I could read this a thousand times over)
and I get into my eleven year old car
and now I have driven away
find myself here
and write you here a little illegal story of love
but, perhaps, understandable to you.
don’t keep more than you
can swallow: love, heat or hate.
love the man.
I’ve read some of his novels – and my relationship to Bukowski has been a bit ambivalent. I kinda liked him because I felt a bit sorry for him – something I do a lot… But on the other hand he’s got that ass-scratching, society-hating thing going on… But I really liked some of these poems posted here. Especially the one Sam posted. He really shows his vulnerability, without too much fuzz or cliche. And I think the needle is tipping to the positive side.
charles bukowski’s the only dirty old man that i like. i’m certain i like him a lot because his poems are so great and true and raw.
Maybe because I’m a cynical fuck with the attention span of a mosquito and a taste for whiskey….
I have a total thing for nasty old men writers so long as they’re self deprecating as well as generally depreciating and full of that genuine cynicism that comes from honest assessment of the bullshit everyone pulls between pretending not to be a fuckwad….
Also nasty old men are my street cat call demographic exclusively. I don’t know why that’s relevant/ needs an “also” I just find it wildly entertaining.
i like his poems. this is the first i’ve heard of him but i like his style. i don’t see an old disgusting fart with a whiskey bottle in one hand and a cigarette in the other, although i’m sure that’s how e spend most evenings. i, more or less see, though it may seem naive, an old writer. his mind not as sharp as it once was due to the life he’s lead. he now sits miserable and lonely. writing honesty until his pencil has no more lead. he’s too stubborn to be a liar, and to proud to let his talent die. i think i find that admirable.
of course, i don’t want to be miserable and lonely.
I am intrigued to see an article on Bukowski on AS. Bukowski’s cynical musings on life really attracted me in high school, and I wrote papers on him in college and recited his poetry (Thoughts for You) as theater auditions. Some of his work portrays women (South of No North) and others in such a poor light that I avoid it. At the same time there are some poems (Dinosauria We, The Genius of the Crowd) that I return to frequently because they are so on point. There’s a succession of Bukowski poetry books (Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills, and Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame) that I will never part with, yet other pieces by him can be passed over in my opinion.
So I have conflicted feelings about the man and his work, but I’m excited to see it all being discussed here. I’d love to hear anyone’s input on Bukowski’s legacy as a cultural / literary figure, especially in the LA area. This also reminds me to re-read his work to see how I’d think about it now.