South And West: A National Literary Quarterly - Vol. 3, No. 2 - 1964: Rosebitch (1 Viewer)

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
Unusual poem from the old man. Is Frances Smith the Rosebitch?

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Strong poem. Given the timing, Frances Smith is as good a guess as any.

Now, call me a philistine, but is anyone else bothered by words like barbwire instead of barbed wire? (This isn't a book of letters to Sheri Martinelli with Buk's cutesy "yr" or any of that silly 60s poet-speak.) Or in another poem, nickle instead of nickel (which, as a chemist, goes up my stovepipe like a sideways screwdriver (AND WHY THE HELL DIDN'T MARTIN CATCH THAT?)? I suppose genius as an artist can transcend spelling, but as a writer, isn't spelling akin to a downhill skier actually owning a pair of skis?
 

mjp

Founding member
but as a writer, isn't spelling akin to a downhill skier actually owning a pair of skis?
Hmm, I don't know about that. Think of all of the great musicians who could not/cannot read music. And an illiterate person could dictate a great book without being able to read one. Creation is creation.

Having said that, mistakes in spelling and grammar bother me too. Language is important and it's beautiful in the right hands, so sloppiness is annoying. But we really shouldn't be aware that a writer can't spell. Maybe that's the failing of the world's editors, not its writers.
 
Think of all of the great musicians who could not/cannot read music.
That's a fair point, but in that scenario, we are not made aware of this inability when listening to that music. When we read a poem with spelling issues, it's an inherent part of the process of assimilation of the art. I see you've already got this poem in the DB, but it's otherwise uncollected (as this subforum indicates), so it's quite possible that Martin never saw this one. But that's what editing is for, as you note. Imagine if we got that from Martin and not we we got.
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
FYI: I did consider that this might have been a poem the typical publisher back then sat on for 3 or more years. But this mag published him in three previous issues in a 1 year span. They still could have sat on it I suppose.

I mentioned Frances, but I kind of hope not.... quite frankly she reminds me of Kerouac's wife.

I don't remember reading any drunk-love poems by him like that, but maybe she reminded him of his dear old mom.

Does anyone know if Frances had green eyes?
 

Johannes

Founding member
Thanks for posting, Pogue!

Actually the speculation about it being Frances (think so too) reminded me of something I've sometimes wondered about: why did Bukowski never write his own account about how Frances and he met? Their initial hooking up and so on?

If you compare it to the other women he had relationships with and lived together: Jane, Barbara, Linda King, Linda Lee, hell virtually every women in his life he wrote about the meeting, their sex and every other thing in graphic detail, often telling the same story over and over in stories, poems, novels and letters like with Jane.

But with Frances? Nothing. We only know the story of their meeting out of Neelis Biography and her own account in Born Into This. That she read his poems in a magazine, liked them, they corresponded and one night while drunk and lonely and probably grieving Jane he invited her over and she went. He wrote a lot about living with her of course in many letters from the time and some stories and about the breakin up part and even some poems like this (presumably) about their "dating period" before Marina was born but never about the initial meeting. At least nowhere that I am aware of, story, poem or letter?

I don't think it's any big dark secret either, my theory always was that either he was so drunk that he sort of blacked out and honestly couldn't remember (but on the other hand he certainly wasn't sober while meeting Jane, Barbara, Linda King or Linda Lee :D) or it virtually was that "unspectacular" that he never thought it worth putting into narrative: they had corresponded, she lived sort of close, he was drunk and lonely and invited her over and they hooked up.

Even in Post Office it goes like this:
"It's not a new story about how women descend upon a man. You think you have space to breathe, then you look up and there's another one. A few days after returning to work, there was another one. Fay."
 

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