'Don't Try' quote (1 Viewer)


Founding member
I think some people were wondering where did the "don't try" quote appear for the first time. Well, I just found it: it's in an October, 1963 letter to Corrington (collected in Living on Luck).

You're welcome ;)
That whole paragraph about the spider and immortality was on the first page the Bukowski section on smog for years. At least once a month someone would ask me where it came from. I had to put a Post-It note on that page of Living on Luck because I referenced it so much. Kind of like pointing people to Dinosauria, we when they are looking for the poem called Born Into This.

Two of Bukowski's greatest hits. I wonder what the top 10 are?
Top Ten has to include: "For Jane" -- the love poem (Not sure I have the title right.)

Also, "The Tragedy of the Leaves" has to be in there.
I think 'Jam', the first poem in Last Night of the Earth Poems, is a good'un, and I would go along with 'Dinosauria, we' and 'the tragedy of the leaves'. 'For Jane' is certainly moving, and '$$$$$$' is good for a bit of analysis. In my dissertation I didn't get to discuss 'Dinosauria, we' or 'Jam', but I'm convinced there is a very interesting essay waiting to be written on both.
So You Want To Be A Writer is my current favorite. Though I don't know how it rates elsewhere ;)

Just a lot of passion and great lines in that one.
only TEN is a tough choice.

sure agreed with 'Dinosauria' and 'tragedy'.
on the Jane-poems, i always prefered 'remains' (also in 'Days run away') to the others.

how about 'Old man dead in a room'?
how about 'Old man dead in a room'?

All three have to be included in a Top 10.

What about "The Rat", "The Shower", "We ain't got no money, honey, but we got rain", "Something for the touts..." and "The strongest of the strange" ? - A Top 10 is very difficult to make. Maybe it should be a Top 20 instead...
Last edited by a moderator:
Hi. Welcome back to another old thread.

Just happened across another reference to 'Don't Try' and thought I'd pop it here for reference.

[To Maxwell Gaddis]
March 14, 1992 12:21 AM

Regarding Who's Who and my advice, "don't try." Well, it means if the stuff doesn't jump on you and make you do it, forget it, in writing and in everything else. I liked best what Ferlinghetti told them when they asked to list him in Who's Who. He wrote back, "Fuck you." Beautiful, beautiful.

Living On Luck p.225​
Last edited by a moderator:
That's a clear explanation of what he meant by "don't try." A bit of a surprise seeing Buk praise Ferlinghetti. He generally didn't have much patience for the Beats.
I'm still amazed when this user ID is actually taken at face-value by people, as if anyone would log in to a website with the name "I'm only a boy, don't take anything I say seriously because I lack life experience." And the vaginal reference is lost on so many.

Users who are viewing this thread