masters thesis or would buk kill me (1 Viewer)

i'm going to write my masters thesis on bukowski, but my anxiety of influence is really bringing me down...how does a gal figure out how to write about bukowski without sounding like she wants to sound like bukowski?
 

mjp

Founding member
I would think it would be easy to write about him without writing like him. But if you're ever unsure, just remember to avoid the four staples of the Bukowski imitator; booze, horse races, whores and puking.

Stay clear of those subjects and concentrate on what was really unique and powerful about his work and you'll always be a step ahead of the imitators. ;)




Oh yeah -- and don't take advice on a thesis from someone who didn't even attend college.

Thank you.
 
I guess I meant that I have been reading the academic/peer reviewed criticism on Bukowski, and although there's not much out there, what is available is mostly anecdotal--and the narratives all seem to stab at Bukowski's diction or dialoge with varied success. This makes sense to me for a variety of reasons I won't get into here, but I guess my ealier question was more about what is the point of even writing academic criticism on Bukowski--does one have to sign a secret pact that says I can only write, either using Bukowskian themes, or his forms, or otherwise I'll be ostracized from the secret pact making tribe? Harrison's book is helpful, of course, but even he is guilty of slipping into the homage/parody format. A couple of more sophisticated articles came out in '01 and '04, but I can tell they definitely didn't know about the pact. Anyway, I'm going to keep going with this, because it's too late now, but I hope the poor guy doesn't roll over in his grave. Also, does anybody have an opinion on what the most critical biography is? Is it Sounes'? Tell me it's not Neeli's...
 

cirerita

Founding member
forget Neeli's.

you want good critical stuff on B? Read these:

-Smith, Jules, Art, Survival and So Forth. Wrecking Ball Press: East Yorkshire, England, 2000.
-Gray Baughan, Michael, Charles Bukowski. Chelsea House Publishers: Philadelphia, 2004.
-Brewer, Gay, Charles Bukowski. Twayne Publishers: New York, 1997.
-Charlson, Jon, Charles Bukowski: Autobiographer, Gender Critic, Iconoclast. Kansas University, Kansas, July 1995. [Originally a dissertation, published as a book in 2005]

Further readings:
-Locklin, Gerald, Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet. Water Row Press: Sudbury, 1996.
-Joyce, William, miller, bukowski & their enemies. Avisson Press: Greensboro, North Carolina, 1996.

There are many more, but these ones should give you an idea of the critical works on B.
 

mjp

Founding member
Kalli said:
...what is the point of even writing academic criticism on Bukowski...?
Ever see Riverdance? That crazy sort-of-Irish quasi-folk mess with long rows of people dancing from the waist down? People, "the masses" out there, love that shit. There are several different touring companies of Riverdance on the road at all times just to keep up with the demand.

Now if you asked, say, a trained ballet dancer their opinion of Riverdance, they would likely laugh and laugh and tell you the hundreds of reasons that Riverdance only appeals to hillbillies and morons and people who know nothing about DANCE.

But the people who pay real cash money to watch a Riverdance performance don't give a shit what the ballet dancer thinks. And the other ballet dancers already agree that Riverdance is low-brow and ridiculous, so, yeah, what's the point in criticizing it?

To write a biography I would assume someone has to be interested in the subject. Why else would they spend months or years of their life researching and writing it? So I'm not sure how critical you can really expect a biography to be. How masochistic (or cynical) would someone have to be to write a biography of someone they considered to be a lesser talent?

All the bios I've read on Bukowski detail the often less-than-flattering sides of his personal life, and those written by other poets are probably the most critical of him personally (which, valid or not, only comes across as professional jealousy).

But criticizing Bukowski's work is kind of like criticizing Riverdance. It is what it is, and the people who enjoy it aren't going to read or care about the criticism, and for those who don't, you're preaching to the choir.
 
mjp--it actually bums me out when people criticize Bukowski's life, or his work really, which doesn't make me a very unbiased investigator. I'm a huge fan, have been for more than a decade, and I figured if I have to spend a bunch of time researching something for a thesis, why not make it Bukowski? But I guess by a "critical" biography I meant one that analyzes specific poems or other pieces, rather than just Buk's life--so critical in terms of its second definition: "Characterized by careful, exact evaluation and judgment, such as a critical reading." Somebody told me there's a bio out there that does that, but I haven't come across it...anyway, I love the riverdance analogy, quite good, I think I'll use that sometime :)

cirerita--i've seen the Brewer, read some stuff from Locklin, not A Sure Bet yet, I just got my hands on a copy of Hugh Fox's Charles Bukowski from 1969, is that the earliest available? Can't find Charlson's, but I'll keep looking, is it any good, sounds intersting. Hey wanna see my bibliography and give me some more pointers?--thanks for the tips, I appreciate it.
 

cirerita

Founding member
all of them are available on Amazon, including Charlson's, but it ain't cheap.

Jules Smith's is a good one, as well as Baughan's since he intertwines analysis of the poems with factual data from B's life.
 

mjp

Founding member
I think Hugh Fox's is the earliest critical writing as a separate publication, but there may have been articles prior to that. As always, cirerita would know. ;)
 

cirerita

Founding member
yep, there are quite a few articles before Fox book, most of them listed in Dorbin's.

Fox book is bit outdated now. He even calls Bukowski a "surrealist." :D

Corrington's article is pretty good, where the famous "nailed to the paper" statement appears for the first time.
 
cirerita said:
-Charlson, Jon, Charles Bukowski: Autobiographer, Gender Critic, Iconoclast. Kansas University, Kansas, July 1995. [Originally a dissertation, published as a book in 2005]

There are many more, but these ones should give you an idea of the critical works on B.

Out of curiosity is there a full text version available online (preferably free)? I looked briefly in one of the databases my university provides and found nothing.
 
I can't find a copy through the library system here, either. I wonder if it was called something else when it was a dissertation...

also, Fox's book lists quite a few articles on Buk in his bibliography, mostly reviews, but I hope to get my hands on copies of some. the early crit is so congratulatory and full of praise, it makes me happy. later stuff dwells on a feeling of repetition--what's wrong with repetition?
 
cirerita said:
Corrington's article is pretty good, where the famous "nailed to the paper" statement appears for the first time.

which Corrington article?
btw: I found an interesting Law Journal analysis of the Corrington/Bukowski correspondance...
 

cirerita

Founding member
yeah, that's the one.

you may also want to read the earliest critical piece ever written on Bukowsi:

-Cuscaden, R. R., "Charles Bukowski: Poet in a ruined landscape," in Satis, n° 5 (Spring-Summer 1962), Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, pp. 21-28

Corrington wrote a couple of pieces on B as well:
-Corrington, W. J., "Charles Bukowski at midflight," introduction to It Catches My Heart in Its Hands, Loujon Press, New Orleans, 1963, 5-10.

-Corrington, W. J., "Charles Bukowski: Three Poems," in The Outsider, v.1, n° 3, Loujon Press, New Orleans, 1963, pp. 66-70.

-Corrington, W. J., "Charles Bukowski and the Savage Surfaces," Northwest Review 6, no. 4 (Fall 1963): 123-128.

btw: I found an interesting Law Journal analysis of the Corrington/Bukowski correspondance..
where?
 
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Kalli said:
I can't find a copy through the library system here, either. I wonder if it was called something else when it was a dissertation...

also, Fox's book lists quite a few articles on Buk in his bibliography, mostly reviews, but I hope to get my hands on copies of some. the early crit is so congratulatory and full of praise, it makes me happy. later stuff dwells on a feeling of repetition--what's wrong with repetition?

Only new thing I got out of my search is that Charlson's full name is David Jon Charlson.
 
Yeah, I can't find a free on-line copy of the Charlson thing.

and the citation for the Bukowski/Corrington thing is:
THE JOHN WILLIAM CORRINGTON & CHARLES BUKOWSKI CORRESPONDENCE: ON POETRY AND WRITING. By: Elkins, James R.. Legal Studies Forum, 2003, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p561-609, 49p; (AN 11751715)

i found it on Academic Search Premier, also apparently available at
Hein On-line: http://www.heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/lstf27
 

cirerita

Founding member
you guys use the interlibrary loan and you'll get it for free!

Kalli, do you have a copy of the Corr./B piece? I can't access those pages you mentioned.
 
cirerita: I downloaded a hard copy, how do you want it :)

Also, has anybody ever actually seen:
Bukowski, Charles. "Essay on DA Levy." Serif. 8.4 (1971); 2-4.
 
speaking of snobs, who was the fella' who posted on smog.com that was all cranky about people changing his bukowski wikipedia entries...i have my suspicions, but yet i wonder...hmmm. ;)

anyway, should i bother tracking down Jack Conroy's "A Skidrow Poet" from 1966, anybody read it? and also James Michael Cooke's "The Grotesque Tradition in the Short Stories of Charles Bukowski" apparently a masters thesis from the university of north texas (1988). i saw the thesis in Harrison's notes from his chapter on Buk's short prose, and the Conroy piece was referred to in Jimmie Cain's "Bukowski's Imagist Roots" from '87.

anyway, back to the grind

cirerita: i shipped off a .pdf of that piece, did it chap your ass that i knew about something you hadn't as yet read?
 
Ninjerk said:
I love Academic Search Premier. If you know of any other worthwhile databases (preferably literature and film) let me know. I'm too lazy to browse them myself.

I take a stab at JSTOR every once in awhile. I found an interview there with a poet named Wanda Coleman who cites Bukowski as an influence, I'll post the quote sometime, it's really quite funny. Also, of course, I go to LexisNexis academic for all the old news bits, old book reviews and reviews of Barfly and what-not. NYT's magazine (I think) has a Bukowski obit. I'll post more later...time to drink.
 

mjp

Founding member
Kalli said:
speaking of snobs, who was the fella' who posted on smog.com that was all cranky about people changing his bukowski wikipedia entries...i have my suspicions, but yet i wonder...hmmm. ;)
I wish I owned smog.com. I could sell it to some California company and live off the proceeds for a few years.

On smog.net - yes, that was me, griping about wikipedia, which I thought was an insane thing long before they gutted my Bukowski contributions. Still do.
Kalli said:
I found an interview there with a poet named Wanda Coleman who cites Bukowski as an influence, I'll post the quote sometime, it's really quite funny.
She's quite a well-known poet, and was also, coincidentally, published by Black Sparrow.
 
I had no idea about Wanda Coleman, but I read some and I liked it. I'm not huge on poetry...mostly prose, although I considered once trying to make a connection between Baraka's audience and Bukowski's...too fringe even for me, seems it would all be conjecture...interesting, though.

and OH smog.NET, my bad, you techno-snob :)

wikipedia ain't so bad, but I tutor in a writing center and I wish students wouldn't use it as their main research source....anyway, didn't I say it was time to drink.
 
mjp said:
On smog.net - yes, that was me, griping about wikipedia, which I thought was an insane thing long before they gutted my Bukowski contributions. Still do.
I particularly liked that little bit about goofy contractions. I had a little chuckle to myself.
 
Kalli said:
I found an interview there with a poet named Wanda Coleman who cites Bukowski as an influence, I'll post the quote sometime...

Here's that quote:
The only person in my immediate turf of whom I could say ?there?s a real poet? was Charles Bukowski. That?s why I say he had an influence on me. And by sheer gumption I ended up at the same press. I was doggin? that man?s tread. I would go to his readings and be the only black person in the room. That?s still true today. You don?t find many minority people involved in the culture in LA? (502).

Magistrale, Tony and Patricia Ferreira. ?Sweet Mama Wanda Tells Fortunes: An Interview with Wanda Coleman.? Black American Literature Forum, Vol. 24, No. 3. (Autumn, 1990), pp. 491-507.

Besides you all, of course, who are the "foremost Bukowskian scholars"?
c: did you get that .pdf file?
 
G

grayxray

i'm going to write my masters thesis on bukowski, but my anxiety of influence is really bringing me down...how does a gal figure out how to write about bukowski without sounding like she wants to sound like bukowski?

Kalli, "don't try"
 
In the forward THE ROOMINGHOUSE MADRIGALS....
Buk writes..... The early poems are more lyrical than where I am at now. I like these poems but I disagree with some who , "bukowski's early work was much better."............He goes on.... I don't believe that my early methods and my late methods are inferior or superior to one another. They are different, that's all.....
I think that says a lot about Buk and his writings from the late 50's on.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
How very Christian of you! Methinks that no-one ever turns this around. They come back and continue where they left off. Either way, it is very nice of you to give people a second chance.

All best,
Bill
 

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