Barbara Fry wrote poetry too

I'm going to enjoy going through life thinking Barbara was just a nymph who thought she was a good poet. It's quite all right with me.
 
I was merely answering a question, honestly, about why I couldn't make the corrections yet. I mentioned it once- and got a couple of speculations and questions as to why my family would be upset- so I brought it up again. It certainly wasn't supposed to be an act of abuse. AGAIN: I do not have any problem with the forum. I am not talking shit "about" the forum. I am talking "to" the forum, and I really apologize about anything that has come across poorly, because I've been trying to be polite (apart from the occasional slip). Are you OK with that mjp? Can we move on now, please?

It's fine with me, too, if you don't care about changing your perceptions. It makes this whole thing a little bit easier- it's not my job to change your mind. All I care about are academic misprints that really don't have much to do with Bukowski at all (which is why it's strange that they're even included in his biographies). So I don't even see the point of discussing this anymore. What I would be interested in talking about, here, is her life with Bukowski. I think there could be a lot of unique conversations. Right now I'm looking for the poetry he wrote about her.
 

cirerita

Founding member
"The Day I Kicked a Bankroll Out the Window."

That was the poem that made W. Corrington say that Bukowski's poetry was "the spoken voice nailed to paper." I can't blame him. I mean, Corrington.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

mjp

Your Host
Moderator
Founding member
Are you OK with that mjp? Can we move on now, please?
Yes, but only because you said "please." I am a sucker for good manners, as you have no doubt gathered from our exchanges here.

It's fine with me, too, if you don't care about changing your perceptions.
You're fighting a non-existent battle. No one has much in the way of "perceptions," because honestly, Bukowski wrote very little about Barbara Frye. Compared to say, Jane Cooney, Linda King or Pam Miller, women he wrote hundreds of poems and stories about.

The only perception one can draw from the virtual omission of Barbara Frye from his history is that Bukowski preferred not to dwell on that chapter of his life. Over the years he seemed to go out of his way to minimize and trivialize the marriage.

You are in a unique position to explain why that might be.

What I would be interested in talking about, here, is her life with Bukowski.
All we could talk about is what is in the biographies. We don't know anything else, you do. So any conversations would be rather one-sided.

You come in here and say, "I'm related to Barbara Frye, much of what you know is a lie, but I can't tell you the truth." What sort of conversation do you expect to form around that?

I'm sure you're a fine and agreeable young lady. But you wandered into a lion's den with fresh meat in your pockets, and you seem insulted and shocked that some of the cats are pawing at your seams to get to it.
 
"The Day I Kicked a Bankroll Out the Window."

That was the poem that made W. Corrington say that Bukowski's poetry was "the spoken voice nailed to paper." I can't blame him. I mean, Corrington.
"...you can take your rich aunts and uncles
and grandfathers and fathers
and all their lousy oil
and their seven lakes
and their wild turkey
and buffalo
and the whole state of Texas,
meaning, your crow-blasts
and your Saturday night boardwalks,
and your 2-bit library
and your crooked councilmen
and your pansy artists-
you can take all these
and your weekly newspaper
and your tornadoes
and your filthy floods
and all your yowling cats
and your Subscription to Time,
and shove them, baby,
shove them."

This is the poem as printed in Sounes; not sure if he was only using part of the poem for the quote. Is the one in the Sampler any longer?

It's an interesting and funny work, particularly to me, because I'm familiar with what he's griping about. Plenty of floods and tornadoes to go around. Frye would also take in stray animals on the land- she did this throughout life. There were always dogs and cats loitering around the place.

"Pansy Artists"/ don't know about when she was married to Bukowski, but when she was married to my grandfather, one of the qualities they shared was an affinity for throwing socialite parties... not really my thing, and apparently not Bukowski's, but I suppose it's for some. Come to think of it, there are comments in biographies about her social-climbing tendencies, and this as one of the reasons for Bukowski's growing emotional distance from her towards the end of their marriage. I can't be positive, but when I think of her, I see this being true at some points in her life, and not so at others. Maybe when she was young and insecure she felt the need to exercise a sense of power and identity by trying to escalate as a member of the artistic elite. When she got older, though, her world reversed and she became introverted.

No one has much in the way of "perceptions," because honestly, Bukowski wrote very little about Barbara Frye. Compared to say, Jane Cooney, Linda King or Pam Miller, women he wrote hundreds of poems and stories about.

All we could talk about is what is in the biographies. We don't know anything else, you do. So any conversations would be rather one-sided.
Sounes writes: "Like most of the women in Bukowski's life, Barbara became the subjects of many poems and works of prose... but little he wrote about her matched up with reality" (38).

Although I knew he wrote a great deal more about the other women in his life, I assumed that he wrote more than Post Office and a couple of poems after reading the statement above. Then again, it would explain why I've been having so much trouble trying to find poems about her. Also... poems usually don't have clear dedications. It's difficult for a newcomer to Bukowski's library to sift through everything and try to make sense of it all (especially in such a short amount of time). Anyway, the earliest poems are probably where I'll have the best shot of finding more. Ideas? Hints? Leave it be as a lost cause?
 
Come to think of it, there are comments in biographies about her social-climbing tendencies, and this as one of the reasons for Bukowski's growing emotional distance from her towards the end of their marriage.
Well, it's no secret that Buk hated anything that he perceived as pretence and phoniness in others, but he also abhorred being dominated and controlled. I get the feeling that Barbara tried to exercise some form of financial control over him -- that is, she wore the trousers. She had a tiger by the tail, that's for sure.

It's difficult for a newcomer to Bukowski's library to sift through everything and try to make sense of it all (especially in such a short amount of time). Anyway, the earliest poems are probably where I'll have the best shot of finding more. Ideas? Hints? Leave it be as a lost cause?
Yes, there's a ton of stuff to sift through and bear in mind that a lot of the early poetry did not survive, although that may not apply to the period of direct interest to your research.

Re the "lost cause" question, if I read you correctly, you are writing a bio of your grandmother. In that case, what percentage of her life story are you allocating to her association with Bukowski, as opposed to the rest of her life?

Being briefly married to Buk, and having him as a sometime editor, may have been her only brush with fame, but she had a life and identity before and after that comparatively short relationship and that's the one that others apart from your family may or may not find interesting depending on what you know and how you write it.

Of course, if you discover unpublished letters that she or he wrote about their relationship, then you would have something of considerable interest to Buk fans.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
The only perception one can draw from the virtual omission of Barbara Frye from his history is that Bukowski preferred not to dwell on that chapter of his life. Over the years he seemed to go out of his way to minimize and trivialize the marriage.

You are in a unique position to explain why that might be.
Bukowski read the galley proof of my biographical essay on him THE KING OF SAN PEDRO and made a few corrections and changes by hand. He deleted a reference to an early relationship. I would have to check the marked up proof, but I think it was Barbara Frye that he scratched out. If I get a chance, I'll look for it and let you know who he deleted. Either a wife or a live-in girl friend, early 1950s-ish.
 
HV: I just noticed in Sounes' source notes for chapter 14, regarding the events surrounding the death of Barbara Frye, he says, inter alia, "I also referred to Barbara Frye's unpublished correspondence with Bukowski held at UCSB".

Have you seen that material yet?
 

cirerita

Founding member
The Fry correspondence to Bukowski available at UCSB is not related to her death at all. There are a few postcards she sent him when she was in Alaska. My powers of observation must be pretty shitty because I just can't see the Indian connection in those postcards.
 
cirerita;72869 said:
HV: I just noticed in Sounes' source notes for chapter 14, regarding the events surrounding the death of Barbara Frye, he says, inter alia, "I also referred to Barbara Frye's unpublished correspondence with Bukowski held at UCSB". Have you seen that material yet?
The Fry correspondence to Bukowski available at UCSB is not related to her death at all. There are a few postcards she sent him when she was in Alaska. My powers of observation must be pretty shitty because I just can't see the Indian connection in those postcards.
How great it is to have you two here. By a professors' suggestion, I was about to go digging around the UCSB archives.

She liked sending hand crafted post cards and christmas cards. I'm betting the ones she sent to B. look nearly identical to the ones we have at home (and for the most part they're quaint; don't imagine them containing any enlightening information). As far as the India info. is concerned- I've concluded, after reading and re-reading those few small sections, that the biographers must have gotten this information from a few Frye relatives. It reads like broken memories- murky in some places, right in others. I wonder if the biographers ever tried to contact my parents, but were rejected... or simply didn't know where to find them.

Bukowski read the galley proof of my biographical essay on him THE KING OF SAN PEDRO and made a few corrections and changes by hand. He deleted a reference to an early relationship. I would have to check the marked up proof, but I think it was Barbara Frye that he scratched out. If I get a chance, I'll look for it and let you know who he deleted. Either a wife or a live-in girl friend, early 1950s-ish.
Fascinating.

I have some conjectures as to why B. would do this... After all, Frye did practically the same thing regarding their marriage. Either it was a very bitter divorce for both of them, or they parted ways apathetically, and minimized and trivialized the experience because it was precisely that: minimal and trivial. Somehow, that doesn't entirely fit. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I sense more bitterness than anything else in his writing. I do have some theories, but I still need to read more of Bukowski's side of the story before I blurt anything out (if there is much more).
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I sense more bitterness than anything else in his writing. I do have some theories, but I still need to read more of Bukowski's side of the story before I blurt anything out (if there is much more).
There is everything; Hope, despair, joy, anger, pity, envy, etc, etc. I don't think that I look at Bukowski as someone that wrote about bitterness.

Bill
 
I would agree to that...

I also think bitterness is a complex emotion. There seems to be a lack of love in his writing about Barbara, including the bio descriptions of their relationship (you know, the kind he had for the other women in his life). Did he love her? In some form or another? Could he feel despair at the end of a relationship that didn't have love? What kind of bitterness is it? Is it the angry, sardonic bitterness at the end of a broken promise or friendship? I Or something more? You're right, I also do get the sense of pity lingering in there.

As far as frye is concerned, I believe she loved the idea of B. more than the man himself. It was infatuation and admiration- at least as partly.

Who are the Human Vultures?
Those other people. You know.
Uh oh. It's also come to my attn. that the name might have cause some misunderstanding. It's not referential to the forum. This whole thing started when I was writing a series of vignettes about the women in my family. Human Vultures... ironically... is taken from that. Again, though, I just come off as an asshole. Sorry.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Again, though, I just come off as an asshole. Sorry.
I do that all the time myself. Somehow, they tolerate me. This is a forgiving place if you are not too much of an asshole. An intentional one. Go too far, and mjp gets out the flamethrower.
 

the only good poet

One retreat after another without peace.
the earliest poems are probably where I'll have the best shot of finding more. Ideas? Hints? Leave it be as a lost cause?
there's the poem, Sundays Kill More Men Than Bombs, in the collection, The Roominghouse Madgrigals, where he mentions your granmother. i seem to recall another poem in Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame where she is mentioned.
 
Barbara is mentioned in the short story book The Most Beautiful Women In Town, I'm pretty sure, but it's been a while since I have read it.
 
Thanks!

Currently reading Post Office. As his first novel, how do you think it compares to his other works?

Some of you previously asked questions about the correspondence between Frye and Bukowski.

As stated in the biographies, the Wheeler Ranch did burn down (however, there was no drug related incident involved). I believe the letters were probably lost in the fire, if Barbara kept them. In a few weeks I will be able to search through what we have left. Hopefully, I'll find something... but as a heads up, I'm not too confident about it.
 

cirerita

Founding member
Everybody knows B's fave was A Place to Sleep the Night, written when living with Fry. Come to think of it, he might have written the novel in the car ;)
 
Currently reading Post Office. As his first novel, how do you think it compares to his other works?
Hmm, compare? I don't know how to compare it. I think his novels, as most of his other writing, has good continuity. Personally, I love "Post Office". There are some very funny parts in that book where I have laughed out loud no matter how many times I have read it.

As for the correspondence: Bukowski has mentioned in several books that Barbara would write often and always on holidays. I'm sure some of those letters still exist. I hope you find out one of these days. I have a soft spot for you, trying to find out more about your grandmother. It's got to be somewhat exciting, but also bittersweet.

Best of luck with your plight.

By the way, is that an ashtray heart?
 
i believe those are lungs.

yes, i love post office as well. i just re-read pulp, hollywood, and the captain, and i think his writing has held up well, if not better, over the years though...
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Post Office is one of my favorites.

Digging through the remains of the burned down ranch should be interesting. Hope you do find some relics of Barbara Fry and Bukowski. Letters would be a fantastic find. Good luck on that.
 
i believe those are lungs.
Indeed they are. I've been trying to quit... and supposedly these are the "anti-smoke" ashtrays... but honestly, they make me laugh more than they convince me to stop. In the end, the horrible economy and cigarette taxes are the most convincing methods.

Post Office is hilarious. Admittedly, I try to read some of the more graphic parts objectively. Aw, c'mon grandma! :eek:
 
28 hours, huh? You'll be past counting hours soon. Each time I quit, it gets progressively more difficult. I have a feeling that my luck is proportional to my willpower. But they hurt so good! So... good will/luck to you too.

Yeah, it's been a weird ride to read all of these things. It's mostly just fascinating, though... to see someone from an entirely different vantage point. It's also just damn funny to discover that my grandma has been immortalized as a nymph. At first it was disturbing- but the natural end is humor. We would all probably rather picture our elders as one-dimensional and asexual... but hey. I wouldn't be here otherwise. No matter what's been written, I know who she was. Good enough for me.

I've been thinking about the physical depictions of both Frye and Bukowski a lot lately, and how they felt connected due to their respective "flaws." My first holy shit moment happened when I read how well the biographies described her appearance. That's when it hit home- that they were really talking about her. It wasn't just a name.

My grandmother's appearance haunted her for her whole life. My grandfather wasn't exactly glamorous, either. Not bad looking, but weathered... a dainty Japanese man with skin like sun-dried fruit. The irony of it all is that their daughters (my aunt and my mom) were absolutely beautiful. My mom professionally modeled for some time. My grandma, someone who had spent her life desiring a sense of the aesthetic, became wary of what actual beauty meant for women. That's one reason her spiritual interest grew in India. There was no dangerous "religious sect" involved- it was Tibetan Buddhism. The lack of "self" in Buddhist thought attracted her- not only because of her own difficulties with a sense of self and her physical appearance, but also because she wanted a different life for her girls- a life without the pressures of vanity or the growing cosmetic extremities for women in American culture.

I can't say she was wrong. Perhaps extreme, but not wrong. .

Bukowski was able to overcome his angst about his physical appearance with talent. It's traditionally the lot of people not blessed with looks to develop more interior attributes. I'm curious about what it is to be a man in this culture, and the physical insecurities that differ in the world of men. As a woman, I admit that far too much emphasis and economy is placed on our physical nature. This isn't one sided, either. We play into it. We get the implants. We marry for money. We buy the lipstick and practice hair removal methods reminiscent of medieval torture. Half of the time, we don't have to be intelligent to land a job or get out of a ticket. We could just have a good rack. Hired. Hence, a social tumor like Paris Hilton has some mediocre ghost writer produce a best-selling book in her name- while real talent and genius goes relatively unrewarded. Go ladies, go.

diatribe end... point: The physical nature of the Buk./Frye relationship (aside from the obvious relevance- like the letter engagement) was one of the most powerful factors of their connection. I can speak on behalf of my grandmother... it was something that followed her every hour of every day. It was the source for most of the decisions and aspirations she had throughout life, including the way she raised her children, who ironically were cursed with what she secretly desired and simultaneously rebuked.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
HV-- her physical deformity must have been very tough for your grandmother to live with. You're right about women in our culture buying into the physical aspect of life, chasing after beauty and its rewards. Most women whore themselves out one way or another. The beautiful women marry the rich doctors, etc. Men have to be either very attractive physically, or rich and/or famous, to get anywhere with most women. That's what men have to deal with. I think Bukowski wrote very honestly about the things men and women deal with. His looks with the acne scars made Buk and Barbara Frye kind of a matched pair of "rejects" from society. People no one else would take.
 
Top