Nobody's PERFECT! (1 Viewer)

Trumpets sounding...

I view all of Bukowski's writings, except for Pulp, as being on an equal plane whether in his real time or posthumous editions. Like he said himself in the Schroeder Tapes, he wrote the same thing over and over again, and the only difference was 'range'; he was present in all of it.

In the later editions, one never knows when the reader will come across another gem. In Shifting Through the Madness..., 'so you want to be a writer' is as good as anything else that was released in his lifetime. The copyright is 2002. By the time I was finished with this collection, I'd bookmarked 30 poems. That's a hell of a lot of keepers for anyone. So I'm not one who considers his later writings in any way inferior to his earlier ones, because he's talking about his life as an old man or revisiting his earlier life and restating it better or sometimes more succinctly than before. All writers have favorite themes they like to revisit as they get older and I like the 'autumn of the life' feel to them. They'll come in handy if I live that long myself.

With regard to Pulp, I feel that his writing reflected his weakened and enfeebled condition because of the leukemia toward the end of his life and I would have preferred that he not attempt this feeble satire and be unable to carry it through with the same grace as in his other works -- the only writings of Bukowski where he was not at his full powers. Nevertheless, it took balls for him to go for it anyway and take that kind of creative risk.

So I think readers have a better shot at finding these gems if they stay on the alert for them, no matter in what work, no matter in what edition, and not be overly sweeping in their assessement of his earlier or posthumous publications. If he thought it worth puting down on paper, I want to have the chance of making up my mind myself about it's worth, and I've rarely been disappointed.



Founding member
yep, poptop, you're dead right, but the issue here is not that B wrote good poems all his life -and crappy ones, as he admitted more than once- but Martin's editing.

during B's lifetime, Martin used to edit and publish what B was writing at the time plus a few oldies, but 95% of the material was REALLY new material -which I think was great 'cos it showed where B was at during a given period of his life. B hardly ever told Martin to publish a given poem -he used to mark the ones he considered to be stronger- though he asked him a few time NOT to publish certain poems he had already sent him. When B passed away, Martin could no longer publish/edit new material, so he had to resort to the HUGE backlog of unpublished/uncollected stuff, but that can't be considered "new" material any more. Of course there are gems in that backlog, but since Martin does all the editing we all depend on his artistic vision to get those gems. When I interviewed him, he said to me "beauty lies in the eye of the beholder", so I guess beauty lies in his eye now.


Usually wrong.
Yes, fine first post, poptop. Pulled off with moxie, to use a favorite word around here. All this forum needed was one more person who's more articulate than I am. Welcome.

cirerita: I agree that we have been getting Martin's vision of what is the best in Bukowski. After Martin's no longer controling what is released, we may see a rawer, wilder (and sloppier) bunch of stuff that Martin held back, and I -- for one -- am looking forward to that. And I do think that it is a lot of stuff.
Gentlemen and Ladies,

Hello to all and I'm glad to be here. We are of kindred spirit and we had some luck finding this immortal Bukowski during our lifetime. We've had our eyes opened and I'm grateful for what he lived through and his openness in sharing it even beyond the grave. I probably would have been out of here at my first beating by this sadistic jake of a father. But somehow Bukowski found the inner light not only to survive it, but to mine it for gold. It just came to me now that he's like a literary Christ to have taken all the punishment he did and pass on the grace and wisdom that only deepened with age. It was a match between his creative instinct on one hand and the cruelest of circumstances on the other, and he not only ran the gauntlet of these indignities but did it with consummate style and flashes of humor. Well, shoot, don't get me started!


A pleasure.

This issue about Martin's editing is new to're way ahead of me...and I've read what you have to say with interest.

It's hard for me to grouse about Martin too much because I wish *I* had been the one to discover the literary find of the century. As just about everyone knows by now, Martin had eyes wide open and was there when Bukowski was dying at the post office (before writing it) and needed some kind of divine intervention so he could go at it full time.

What one of us wouldn't have wanted to be Martin, or in Martin's position, as the planets lined up so perfectly?

So considering M's track record and his penchant for discovering these alternative writers to the conventional mainstream press, I'm willing to grant him some literary license... I'm willing to give him some leeway in his choice of B's material, and his artistic vision, because of his near perfect record.

My sense of it, is that just about everything Bukowski did will eventually come out. And I think in the past that B did sometimes defer to his editors' requests. On Hostage he talks of an editor (not Martin) changing the colloquial "had drank" to the grammatically correct "had drunk" and he went along with it (though I think B hints at regretting the change). On the Run With the Hunted reading, my understanding is that Martin chose those poems, stories and excerpts for B to read, and perhaps they were merely Martin's personal favorites.

Maybe I'm stuck on gratitude here and all I can say is that Martin was at the right place and the right time when B needed him and M was one of the luckiest s.o.b.s of all time for seeing who was there. And I'm sure the satisfaction of his discovery will probably carry him through the next dozen lifetimes with a smile on his face.

I think overall for me, and to M's credit, I've never felt Martin's presence standing between me and the words; only the support to give B his chance to be heard. B's work still stands up overall magnificently, and a few small editing changes in keeping with the king's English, or a less than perfect choice on the writings, isn't going to shift the planets out of alignment. His legacy is already secure and will only grow stronger as the gap between the haves and have-nots widens in this age of political lunacy. That's why I'm for the silent hero in some dark room somehow holding the humanity of this world together through their personal magic. B's right at the top of my list for accepting, if not embracing it all. And as far as editors go, I would find it hard to top Martin. What one editor has made a greater difference in one writer's life than Martin? (Maybe Anais Nin did when editing Miller's Tropic of Cancer.)

As I've come to these posthumous editions only of late, I'm for flooding the marketplace with the whole of it where I can pick and choose. Even B at his "worst" is better than what most other writers could ever hope to produce in their lifetime. But I think I can understand your concern about the best of B getting out there and some of Martin's choices.

Wordy today.



Founding member

maybe I wasn't clear enough when I said it all depends on Martin's editing. It's not just that Martin corrected B's typos and grammatical mistakes, Martin also chose which poems would be published in a given book, even during B's lifetime. And Martin was VERY WISE there. I mean, B would send him a thousand poems during 1-2 years, and Martin had to chose which ones to publish. B never gave him a list with the poems to be published, not even in cases such as The Roominghouse Madrigals. I think Martin had a very good eye for choosing the best ones while B was alive. I'm not that sure about the posthumous books, though.

On the other hand, B was always complaining that Martin didn't publish all his poems -or most of them, anyway. Martin would always say: "Hank, we don't want to flood the market", and B would be furious for a while because he wanted to see all his poems printed. That's why he kept sending hundreds and hundreds of poems to the "littles" even in the 70's and the 80's. He needed that.

Overall, I would say Martin did a great job... though there are a few MINOR things I find improvable. But what do I know...

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