So, what other poets get you like Bukowski does? (1 Viewer)

A friend of mine has a friend doing life for murder. Some of the stuff he has written is awesome, I do believe that a couple of his poems blows most scholarly poetry out of clear water. I'm not sure that he wants anyone reading it though, he's not even aware that my friend put it online. I'd rather not link it for plenty of reasons especially because I have some of my own stuff there that I would rather just keep between me and my friend for the time being.


Founding member
Can a criminal be a good writer? Of course. Does being a criminal necessarily make someone a good writer (or even interesting)? Of course not. But a lot of people seem to believe the latter.
Convicts serving time have a lot of free time on their hands, which gives them a lot of time to write. There are also a lot of interesting people in prison, which could give you good material. Problem is that the average person cannot write about interesting people in an interesting way, even given tons of free time.
I agree with what Bill said about prison per se not making a person or a piece of writing interesting or "good"; having met hundreds of cons and knowing a few quite well. Prison, as a writing entry-point as it were, is just like anything else. Even Bill would agree that there are some poems about religion that are strong worthy poems, although most "religious poetry" is schlock.

Having said that, in my book it would be hard to find a better poet than William Wantling whether writing about prison or not, although he left us too soon to leave a large body of work. And as for great "unknown" poets [nothing to do with prison] Reginald Lockett is accessible, relevant, and had he not died three years ago at the untimely age of 60, would have left us more than his four remarkable books, among them The Party Crashers of Paradise and Random History Lessons.
I don't want to put anyone on the spot, sorry Bill, but he has published some of my poems with religious themes. Hopefully he considered them worthy and strong. It's like "garden poetry" - sounds like a drag; but you could write a good poem about a garden.
I suppose you can write a good poem about anything no matter how drab the subject may be as long as you have the talent to do so. Subject matters such as religion isn't my cup of tea unless it's being critisized but just because I or someone else may not like a poem doesn't make it bad.


Founding member
Are "poems about religion" and "poems with religious themes" the same thing? I don't believe they are.

Anyway, I didn't say it couldn't be done, I just said 'name one,' because every one I've ever read leaves me feeling dirty. That being said, I avoid religious anything like the plague if I have fair warning, so I'm not the best judge.


"Name one" is a pretty good question now that I think about it. I like to believe that any subject can be dealt with in a poem, provided the poet has a certain level of talent, but ... religion ? I don't know. They say e.e. cummings was a devout Christian and I've read a fair amount of his stuff, but I can't remember him really using religion as his main "talking point".

The issue is just too divisive to allow authentic, creative expression that can cross boundaries, I guess.
You're either on the church bus or you're off.


Founding member
The issue is just too divisive to allow authentic, creative expression that can cross boundaries, I guess.
I don't know. My favorite music is lousy with biblical imagery and references to "the almighty," and "His Imperial Majesty," and I don't buy into any of that crap, but I can appreciate the passion and devotion. I can't say I've ever come across any openly Christian art of any kind that makes me feel the same way.

Christian music misses the mark by a mile because it is mostly made by humorless toads that have to work THE SAVIOR into every song. They could learn a thing or two from the Rastafarians and balance that shit with some songs about revolution, fucking and getting really, really high. ;)

Guys like Son House, and Leadbelly...heck, even Ray Charles took church music and made it both something new, and something pretty damn good at the same time.

Of course, they were branded as heathens for making the music worth listening too...


Usually wrong.
I'd say, if you like Bukowski, you'd probably like Paul Celan.

What say you?


I spun that secret thread
where the dew you mused on
slid down to pitchers
tended by a word that reached no one's heart.

the hammers swung free in the belfry of your silence,

Nope. Does nothing for me. Too precious, like zillions of other striving poets. Sorry.


Sleeps in a yellow room
I love Cavafy, another poet I feel gets very little of the respect and recognition he deserves. You've all probably read this one but I thought it still worthy of talking about. He's this crazy mesh of a neoclassic style with a modernist and sometimes Romantic feel. I find him compelling because he was so enigmatic; like Buk, he was tied to some other life than a poet. Like Buk, he knew poverty but started life comfortably and then lost it and toiled in government work, although he eventually rose to a high position. Many of his poems deal with sex with random people but he's blatantly homosexual. Reading his work is fascinating because he, unlike Buk, really tells you nothing directly of himself and yet is still completely honest. He also was really doing an odd thing sticking to his classical style, like he wants you to infer pride being Greek, or highly educated, (especially his erotic work), but he can also be so scathing and even oddly prophetic using the lessons forgotten by the fall of his ancestors. No one was doing what he was doing in his day. But while Buk sought so doggedly to be published and read, Cavafy only self-published and shared his poems will very few. His style is totally his own, really, like Buk. This poem feels Bukowski-esque although their approach to how they present their work seems totally opposite, there is something about the two in which I see so much connection.​
Getting back to the good poem about religion debate, I suppose it's important to distinguish between spirituality and religion. In my experience, the two are often mutually exclusive. As a musical example, take Clapton's Let it Rain. I'm no big fan of Clapton, but that's a pretty good song - at least I don't change the station when it comes on. And apparently it's about God, but it has nothing to do necessarily with religion. Notwithstanding the points that have been made about the differences between lyrics and poetry, I offer that as an example of a good spiritual piece. Most of what Coltrane did after he quit the junk was immensely spiritual (shut up, Hooch, I know what you're thinking). I guess my point is that it's not hard to imagine someone being inspired by an individual quest that represents a singular example of spirituality; conversely, it's almost impossible for me to envision someone being truly inspired by a scripted curriculum.


Sleeps in a yellow room
With all respect, the point is that many of us are convinced that you could care less about this forum or Bukwoski and are only using it to promote the work of your husband the same way others have some on here to try to sell Vioxx, Viagra or Rolexes. Had you said in the beginning that your husband writes and that his name is XXXX, XXX then it would not seem like you were trying to just turn us on to an author that you dig, instead of actually just trying to promote his work. It felt like a con, really.

I have nothing against you or your husband. I just know how this will end. Once you realize that the forum will not get your husband's work out there, you'll be gone and we'll look back to see that you never once posted anything that was not solely to promore his work.

True d'at. The people here are amazing, an incredible array of people. Bukowski fans can be hard to find, and I can only speak for myself when I say that even though I joke and have fun, Buk means something to me (and probably many others here) for which there are no words. People work really hard on this site so when it feels like someone is here in a manner that doesn't read sincere, it's like someone is shitting on you while you were minding your own business.

Ooh, you're so controversial and wild!


WOW! When did I say I thought all poetry was crap? Was I too busy making water? I'd rather die of thirst than die sounding like I'm answering a question like a Ms. America wannabe to Kathy Lee Gifford.
Unless pantyhose come with that swimsuit. Hot. Who wants to write a poem?

If you like Bukowski ..

you'll LOVE My Husband....His poetry speaks with power and intelligence. I am a huge fan of Bukowski and Fante and My Husband's writing is eloquently amongst the realms of such great writers ...his words ebb and flow thick and sweet as syrup. I have read both My Husband's books . . .

[ruthless edit by mjp]
oh, I just like to make these sweeping generalistions every now and then. I would exchange every poem ever written for a regular supply of running water. it's all about marginal utility, as the economists say, and because we take so much for granted we think that poetry has some worth beyond the paper and ink used up to make it.

pulp the lot of it & recycle it into something useful, especially those signed first editions !

[further edit, by popular demand, by Father Luke]
I think this is Josh Rockie-Poo. I'm getting that Jan Brady feeling again. . .I know it's an old post but maybe if Tiff comes back she can learn some proper grammar. Writing, for instance, can be eloquent, but not "eloquently" (adj. vs. adv.--you know, like "Alien vs. Predator."


"Eloquently Amongst The Realms" - that's the chapbook title I've been searching for ! Thank you. This thread flows thick and sweet with eloquence and stuff.

(Okay Edit: Just noticed I hit 144 fantastic posts and I feel I ought to quit but I've hardly begun. I'm just gonna slow down... I'm scared.)

no song lyrics in this thread thanks. ed
I'm not huge into poetry. Never was.
I enjoy novels and short stories.
I still haven't purchased any of Buk's poetry books. Wroking on the novels and short stories first.
The only other poet that comes to mind is Jim Carroll. Someone showed me The Basketball Diaries (the movie) probably 7 years ago or so and I was hooked on his writing.
I have to say that reading Bukowski has given me an appetite for more poetry in general and in particular for the confessional, straightforward kind that I like in Buk. I've started reading Kim Addonizio thanks to the recs in this thread, a friend turned me on to David Kirby whose poems also read like personal anecdotes, and I'll keep looking for others.


And in the end...
Turned off at school, too much time spent on the structure of sonnets(aaaarrrgghhh). Like a few Ted Hughes and all of Wilfred Owen. Read Bukowski's poems out of curiosity because of his prose (I love: two kinds of hell, in particular), this poem below, by Scottish writer Liz Lochhead, it's a universal experience and we've all been there, though perhaps not to the same degree as this child

Trouble is not my middle name



And in the end...
Hi, sorry mjp, wasn't aware of this.Do hope some people look her up though, she is the current Makar or 'Top Bard' in Scotland,and an impressive lady.
Great conversation about a wonderful poet. We're actually compiling a list of poets similar to Bukowski as a crowd-sourcing effort to recommend other poets that Bukowski fans might like. The page is here. Please feel free to add names and vote on existing suggestions. It would be great to some day have lots of good recommendations for Bukowski fans to check out. There's nothing quite like discovering a new favourite poet. I'm sure many of you remember the first time you discovered Bukowski himself.

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