A Genre Within Bukowski? A search through his poems... (1 Viewer)

Dear fellow Chianski-lovers, a query. I am writing a short piece in defense of Bukowski's poems, in response to a friend of a mine who is a critic and a non-Bukowski lover (and also in response to a poet who recently pissed me off by talking elitist crap about Bukowski). However, the problem I face is logistical and two-fold:

1) I am traveling at the moment, and I don't have access to my usual library where I would likely just go sit with stacks of Bukowski's work pulled from the shelves. Or, I would go hang out with my neighbor whom I drink with and I know has many, many Bukowski books of poetry.

2) Years ago I had many, many books of Bukowski's poetry, most which were destroyed in Hurricane Isabel in 2003 (when I was basically living out of my car and keeping my books in the trunk. The trunk flooded and sank my heart and since then I haven't quite resumed my collection of Bukowski) and since then I have forgotten the titles of the specific poems I am searching for.

Here is where a forum like this does wonders. I am looking for a specific "type" or "genre" of Bukowski poem, of which I believe he wrote many (because I've read many of them). They are combination of a) those poems of his that are essentially lists of other writers/poets who have gone mad, or killed themselves, or been killed and b) poems of his where the poet is awake in the middle of the night, listening to classical radio, with that radical sense of isolation that some of Bukowski's work can have.

So, the poems I am looking for are the one's where the speaker (Bukowski) is up late at night, in his room, at the typewriter, alone, listening to classical music, and thinking of the many poets/writer who've gone mad/killed themselves/been killed.

I would love any suggestions of poems to look at, and how many of these types of Bukowski poems you might think there are. And thank you for reading through the post, both for your time and consideration.
 
G

GDPR 4124

Good of you to take a stand for Bukowski!

I think I get what kind of poems you're looking for, but I also think that it's very hard to speak of them in terms of different "types". As far as I know (even though that is not very far) he wrote these kind of poems all through out his life and despite looking different depending on when and where and why they were written, the quintessence of them all is basically the same: Bukowski is out there fighting alone once again, thinking about all the others who have fought before him, feeling connected to them and strengthened. Of coure you might be able to trace some structural or contextual similarities or differences in between the poems, but I'm not sure what you will achieve by dividing them into different types.

Anyway, I came to think of a really swell poem from "You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense", "Beasts Bounding Through Time": http://bukowski.net/database/detail.php?WorkNumber=686.

"Beasts Bounding Through Time"

Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
Hemingway testing his shotgun
Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
the impossibility of being human
Villon expelled from Paris for being a thief
Faulkner drunk in the gutters of his town
the impossibility of being human

Burroughs killing his wife with a gun
Mailer stabbing his
the impossibility of being human

Maupassant going mad in a rowboat
Dostoevsky lined up against a wall to be shot
Crane off the back of a boat into a propeller
the impossibility

Sylvia with her head in the oven like a baked potato
Harry Crosby leaping into that Black Sun
Lorca murdered in the road by the Spanish troops
the impossibility

Artaud sitting on a madhouse bench
Chatterton drinking rat poison
Shakespeare a plagiarist
Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness
the impossibility the impossibility
Nietzche gone totally mad
the impossibility of being human

all too human
this breathing
in and out
out and in
these punks
these cowards
these champions
these mad dogs of glory
moving this little bit of light toward
us
impossibly.

I am sure that there are many, many more, but I think that this one really captures what you described. Just the title "Beasts Bounding Through Time" gives, to me at least to me, the impression of the magnificent beast Bukowski bounding with all the other magnificent beasts before him.

I know that this probably wasn't much help. But take it for what it is, maddafakka.
 
...poems to look at, and how many of these types ...

Something in your phrasing makes me queasy. Your loss must have been difficult and it sounds like your respect for Bukowski is sincere but I just don't have the impression that you've done any leg work at all on the project that you are soliciting help for. Do you have some kind of argument outlined? What is some more background on the 'non-bukowski lover' (what does that statement mean, by the way?) and the 'elitest crap-talking poet'? What exactly did they say? What (roughly) are you saying?

...I'm not sure what you will achieve by dividing them into different types...

I don't think this is an impossible task. Organizing poems like organizing anything (thoughts, calvin-and-hobbes strips, spices in the kitchen) is hard but can be done, maybe even to substantial benefit. Would not be surprised to hear others disagree.

Awesome poem you linked right there. Part of the issue I have with what the lizard man seems to be shooting for is that in my view one poem should be enough. One poem and some biographical stuff from written bios or youtube interviews, etc., should be more than enough grist for the mill to write an essay, assuming that the essayist is actually a writer and has some original ideas of his own.

Anyway for what it's worth, "Left with the dog" and "Rain" from Mockingbird Wish Me Luck are both to the point.
 
First off, thank you for so far for the recommendations. "Beasts Bounding Through Time" immediately strikes me as exactly the tone of the Bukowski poems I am trying to locate. I'll have to get my hands on "Left with the dog" and "Rain."

To respond to -- "something in your phrasing makes me queasy," and "assuming the essayist is actually a writer and has some original ideas of his own" -- I'll admit the point: my own phrasing made me uncomfortable too (although not even close to "queasy," which is hyperbolic). The circumstance is simply this: I could have as easily limited my question to, "Hey, what are some {insert descriptors here} Bukowski poems that fit {said type of Bukowski poem, e.g. alleyway bar fights, hungry in the library again, rejection letters, etc}." But I figured, "What the hell, I'll be honest without trying to write an overly ambitious first post on the forums." Perhaps I was off base.

But, listen: if the queasy response is for the sake of getting more people to join the conversation, great. If it's meant to provoke a dissertation defense/flame war for the sake of the ostentatiously brilliant mind of "growling beard," piss off.

To try to make the conversation more amiable, I'll offer a few more details in hope of either adding credibility to my request or making the conversation more opinion friendly...

I'm not going to outline an entire argument. Bukowski has always been a target for the same criticism from overly liberal snobs: they claim he's an unlettered, unpolished, anti-intellectual, working class, self-centered alcoholic misogynist lacking complex modernist tendencies while displaying the overly-spare prose of a simple realist with an incoherent vision.

But I desire to pose an argument for Bukowski's work. My basic sense is that Bukowski pro- and con- criticism suffers from being more attached to a cult of personality (the man) than his work. I think, for instance, that if people approached Bukowski's work the way they read something like Burroughs' Naked Lunch, one might see that there is a terribly foreboding aspect of social horror beneath the beer mug glamor of Bukowski's "tough guy" poetry. Ham on Rye floored me, left me feeling gutted. And something about the emptied out spaces of the night in Bukowski's poetry where he lists all the dead come before him -- they haunt me too.

To answer the other semi-condescending questions. The background of the "non-Bukowski lover" (most people don't love Bukowski for the reasons I listed above, so the statement "a non-Bukowski lover {which isn't a statement, it's a term} refers to someone who thinks Bukowski is a low-brow drunk) is that this critic is one of those ex-communists who sees Bukowski as an infantile confessional poet rather than controlled artist. Such a critic, for instance, believes that any poet has political affiliations regardless of whether or not he or she admits it. This critic (the one I'm in a spat with) thinks Bukowski is a conservative, patriarchal romantic.

The "elite crap-talking poet" is a failed-feminist who writes dodgy poetry about her grandmother, reads it while crying, and flat out screamed at a party where we were conversing that Bukowski was a rapist. What (roughly) I'm saying is that: I'm traveling at the moment. I don't want to go out and buy, if even I could find them at a bookstore (or a local library or have them Amazon delivered to someplace nearby) 20 Bukowski books to hunt down maybe less than two dozen poems like "Beast Bounding Through Time" that I'm sure a few Bukowski lovers could point me to, as so far has begun to happen. Doesn't it interest you too that Bukowski writes in patterns? And that those patterns are saying something larger than that he's a really interesting person? I'm interested in this specific pattern: Bukowski's poems about dead and mad predecessors, written as if from the middle of an endless, hellish night, accompanied by classical FM.

I teach "Style" every time I lead a writing workshop. I loved Wait Until the Spring, Bandini.

But please, growling turd, don't take issue with my terrible enthusiasm and assumption that perhaps a few other congenial folks like Ghado might show up and (gasp) share/post/recommend some Bukowski poetry that I'm looking for. I mean, it might be intellectual murder for me to ask for help, but please, don't hurl.
 

mjp

Founding member
I feel like I've taken a wrong turn somewhere and wandered in to the teacher's lounge in the middle of a slap fight.

I understand the need to set facts straight - that's about 90% of what we do around here - but I don't know if I'll ever understand the desire to change someone's opinion of Bukowski or his writing, or somehow make a case for it. It's like
driving around with your windows open and the stereo playing really loud because you want the world to know that WHAM! were really ahead of their time. It doesn't matter to anyone, and you just make yourself look like a jerkoff in the process.

If you feel defensive or threatened by someone dismissing or demeaning something you love, it could be that you are a little embarrassed by that love, deep down, so you feel the need to somehow prove that holding dear something that others may consider lowbrow or trivial doesn't make you an idiot. That's an emotional issue though, not a literary one.

My office is open every day for therapy. No appointment necessary.

Carry on.
 
G

GDPR 4124

mjp, I can't really agree with you one that one. Everything which I have ever loved - and I am at least somewhat sure that I haven't been embarrassed by all of it - I have wanted to share with and defend against the world. Not because of pure vanity (but of course there is a little vanity in everything) or in search of some kind of approval, but just simply because I have wanted everyone to know just how beautiful the world can be under the effect of love.

Of course, if you constantly feel an urge to boast about your love or always need others to love with you, you probably are not comfortable enough in your own love. But loving something and wanting to defend and share your love is, in my opinion, very human.

P.S. On some kind of meta level, I guess what I am doing here is sharing and defending my sharing and defending of love.
 

mjp

Founding member
There is a difference between sharing your love and going out of your way to convince or convert nonbelievers. That isn't sharing, that's trying to prove the nonbelievers wrong, which comes from a place of insecurity.

Which is, I think, the root of all arguments around religion - the knowledge (whether you admit it or not) that what you are arguing in favor of is tenuous and unprovable. Someone who truly believes is less likely to argue in favor of their beliefs, and more willing to know they are right and let the nonbelievers go off and nonbelieve if that's what they want to do.

Take Bukowski out of the equation and replace him with Christianity or Islam. The argument is the same (You should love this, I do!), and equally unprovable and ultimately unwinnable. That is if you're trying to "win," and I think our friend here is trying to win.

"Now, you're either on the bus or off the bus. If you're on the bus, and you get left behind, then you'll find it again. If you're off the bus in the first place — then it won't make a damn."
 
I agree with MJP, there is no point in trying to argue with a failed feminist who writes bad poetry about her grandmother. Unless it has to do with your own standing at the university where you teach and you need to win an argument to save face, then I would leave it alone. Who cares what they think?
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
@LizardHianski,
Rather than becoming an apologist for Bukowski, come off the fence, I don't think anyone here looks at him through rose tinted glasses and are more than aware of his flaws.Yes he's controversial, because boundaries for him didn't really exist, (possibly with the exception of his daughter).

That he is unpopular with your (failed???) feminist friend/colleague is not surprising,some of his work is difficult to read as a woman, I know that Women is my least favourite book, I find it empty and depressing, but brutally honest, the misogyny argument is there, but I don't think he was hostile to women all the time ( just many of the ones he encountered) and similar to a lot of men of his generation, add to this his brutal childhood and depressingly detached mother, poor interaction with the girls and young women he fell in love with from a safe distance (now I'm beginning to sound like an apologist), anyway, if it's moral rectitude and political correctness you and your friend are after you won't get it with Bukowski.
So just do it:

11/22/91 12:26 AM
have no thoughts about immortality, don’t give a damn about it. It’s the ACTION while you’re alive. The gate springing open in the sunlight, the horses plunging through the light, all the jocks, brave little devils in their bright silks, going for it, doing it. The glory is in the motion and the dare. Death be damned. It’s today and today and today. Yes.

Bukowski, Charles (2009-03-17). The Captain is Out to Lunch (Kindle Locations 771-773). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. on.
 
First off, not trying to be and ass here and or "flame" the post. This is written in a totally non sarcastic tone.

Defending art strips away the fact that it is art. This failed feminist obviously hasn't read enough Bukowski to realize that he wouldn't give two shits about her like or dislike of his work. Bukowski's opinion about overwhelming popularity and being accepted by everyone is no big secret. I read it as being his definition of "failure" if that is achieved. In fact I'd venture to say that if he ever had to stand up to such a person and defend his work, and in doing so convinced them to accept or like his work, he would likely consider himself a failure.

Opinion of art, writing, or.....almost anything for that matter speaks far more of the critic than it does of the artist or criticized subject. We are all guilty of this because we don't all like the same things. And thank God for that!

But hey, good luck with your argument! It sounds like a daunting and pointless task.
 
..I'm traveling at the moment. I don't want to go out and buy ... Bukowski books. ..

Ah. I have meditated and opened myself up to the divine guidance which is our birthright here on earth. This whole thread is a thinly veiled plea for help. Maybe some day you will have something to contribute to a discussion of the work of Bukowski, but for now, what you need is ... a mix tape. I'm here and I care. People on this site have done some cool things for me, and hey if you don't pay it forward then it just becomes mold in your pocket right. So boom, you can keep this, rock out compadre. And, by the way, my turds have been shapely lately, and regular too. Thanks for asking. My ulcer is not your problem, until you make it worse, and then you put me in the position of having to decide whether or not to take you dancing. If I had said "your lazy riffing had me shit my pants at 'I am writing a short piece,'" that would have been hyperbole, because I did not in fact shit my pants. As it was it was honest. But then most people make me queasy so you're right in there with the masses. No go on, pedal the metal, the trade winds call your name out from afar. Without further ado:

Shiver me timbers (Tom Waits)
Send me on my way (Rusted Root)
Transport Connection (Sister Nancy)
Lowrider (War)
Travelin band (CCR)
Brother Love's Travelin Salvation Show (Neil Diamond)
Road Trippin (Chili Peppers)
Organ Grinder (DJ Shadow)
Down the Road Tonight (Hayes Carll)
Three Little Birds (Bob Marley)
Guitar Town (Steve Earl)
Paradise City (Guns N Roses)
Bottle in my hand (Hayes Carll)
Pack It Up (Pokey Lafarge)
Home I'll Never Be (Tom Waits)
Long Road To Glory (Jurassic 5)
Something to Ride To (Too $hort)
Runnin Down A Dream (Tom Petty)
Beaumont (Hayes Carll)
No Sleep Til Brooklyn (Beastie Boys)
Turn The Page (Bob Seger and the silver fucking bullet band)
I've Been Everywhere (Johnny Cash)
Around the World (Daft Punk)
World of entertainment (Jurassic 5)
Rains on Me (Tom Waits)
One for the road (Cee Lo Green)
Cold Water (Tom Waits)
Amarillo Highway (Robert Earl Keene)
Town to town (Pokey Lafarge)
Shiver Me Timbers (Tom Waits)
Waiting on the sky (Steve Earle)
Adrenaline (The Roots)
Positive Contact (Deltron 3030)
Ol' 55 (Tom Waits)
The Road Goes On Forever (Robert Earl Keene)
The Long Way Home (Tom Waits)
Sunrise (Nora Jones)
Come on up to the house (Tom Waits)
 
Not even Deutschland über alles?
Not long a go I quoted from the sequence in 'Shakespeare never did this', where Hank is singing that song in a German pub.

One of my clever remarks was, that I don't really believe, Hoffmann von Fallersleben had faschism in mind, when he wrote that in Augtust 1841. Maybe he just liked the country.
.
_my service for you, so you don't need to look it up yourself in 'Shakespeare':
"Then they began to sing together while sitting down. They weren't too bad. A round of beers arrived. They sang another song. Not bad. […] I liked the German words. I didn't know what they meant but I liked them. […] Then I began to sing: 'Deutschland, Deutschland über alles …' - A few joined in but very quietly. I sang it loudly. Somebody took me aside and said in English: 'They worry when you sing that song. Some of them relate it to Nazism.' – 'Oh shit!' I said. Then I sang the song over again and went back and sat down and drank the wine…"
 

hoochmonkey9

Art should be its own hammer.
Moderator
Founding member
Too much Tom Petty. And everybody knows that every mixtape with a road theme has to close with Sinatra's "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road),"even if you don't like Sinatra. It's a rule.
 
The "elite crap-talking poet" is a failed-feminist who writes dodgy poetry about her grandmother, reads it while crying, and flat out screamed at a party where we were conversing that Bukowski was a rapist.

In the poem "1941" Bukowski writes about Sherwood Anderson dying from complications due to swallowing a toothpick.

I am sure your hysterical opponent will be impressed. :confused:
 
I like the poem where Buk mentions that his style is being copied by many young poets, it is self deprecating; Buk says at the end something like: "don't they know? The critics will take one look at their poems and say, 'this sounds just like Dosteovski.'"
 
I'm still curious if the OP managed to convince the "non-Bukowski lover" to like Bukowski.

Bukowski was a rapist!
No he wasn't, let me read you this quote, "Chatterton drinking rat poison, Shakespeare a plagiarist, Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head..."
Oh, I guess you're right.
 
This is only peripherally related to what this thread was blathering about, but I've often considered the value, if any, of organizing poems, for example thematically. It's one of the great challenges of a book of buk poems. you turn the page and BAM you're in a totally different galaxy of experience. Especially true with the collections like Roominghouse that span 20 years. Reading page to page is hard. The emotional ground covered is tremendous. Small wonder people (even admirers) seem so inclined to typecast.

The sarcasm ...
There wasn't any. I hide my sincere intention behind blades of humor, like a samurai.

I'm still curious if the OP managed to convince the "non-Bukowski lover" to like Bukowski.

Bukowski was a rapist!
No he wasn't, let me read you this quote, "Chatterton drinking rat poison, Shakespeare a plagiarist, Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head..."
Oh, I guess you're right.

well said man. your sensibility is right on. hope you stick around.
 

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