The Continual Condition

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Really? Can you tell us which ones?

Btw, I miscounted. It's 14 poems not 13 we've dicovered so far, plus the new 5 poems you just found.
14 poems out of 63 is 22.22% reprints. 19 out of 63 is 30.15% reprints. Wow, that's almost 1/3!
 
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Perhaps we should write the publisher to let them know we know.
Didn't we have a rep promoting this on site before the release?
 

mjp

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I'm a helpless fan of the little man and flask, dog and bird doodles, so other than the obnoxious green and orange lettering, I think the cover is great.
Linda Bukowski agrees.

When the Vroman's thing was about to start she picked up her copies of Hitler Painted Roses and The Continual Condition from behind the makeshift bar, showed Condition to Carol and said, "Isn't it cute?"
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
That would entail way too much bibliographic research on my part. I'm sure capt.co could do this in the blink of an eye ;)
I see! I thought you had the titles. I guess I could do a search although only identical titles would show up. We'll leave it to capt. co then.

Are you listening, capt. co? :D
 
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nervas

more crickets than friends
I like the cover, though the ARC cover was cool too....But I swear, and I just read it 1minute it ago, "parts dept." still makes me crack up as much as any Bukowski poem I've ever read.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Any ideas as to why John Martin chose at least 14 poems for the book which already had appeared in other poetry collections (some slightly changed)?
Was John Martin that forgetful or what?
 

mjp

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I get the feeling the duplication was not intentional. But whether it was or not, according to people who have asked him about it, he just didn't care that there were duplicates. He was meticulous about a lot of other things, but not that.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
So he was just sloppy when he picked the poems for the book?

The reason I ask is because somebody asked me that very question and I simply don't know what to answer him.
 
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Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Thanks! - I guess Martin did'nt keep an exact record of poems which had been collected previously, not to mention different titles of the same poem and poems which content had been slightly altered since their first appearance.
 
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Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
It was certainly more than just a few previously published poems which slipped by him, and some of them were published fairly recent in posthumous collections which he also edited.
 

nervas

more crickets than friends
Ok, here's my question. I guess I'm naive here, but never thought an editor had that much say in these things. The changes, or edits in a poem like "thanks for that" originally published in what matters... that were made, and then retitled "thanks for the luck" in the continual...

Who made the changes, as both poems are not the same? I mean, sure they seem like just minor lines changed here and there, but... Is this a decision that John Martin makes? I mean, who makes the changes and then completely renames the poem?
 
It takes a pretty big an opener to open that kettle of fish. If mjp isn't sick of doing it (no offense, but he probably is), he may weigh in here, as he seems to have a better understanding than I do, but, in a nutshell, Martin apparently made some significant edits through the years, some of which really reduced the quality of Buk's work, at least to some. Other better Buk historians/researchers than I here may also shed more light.

Women is perhaps the most glaring, and Buk writes about this in one of the letter collections. Buk actually called Martin out on this, and after the first printing of Women, there are substantial changes back to Buk's original. I have a 1st wraps and a later wraps of this, but I've yet found the time to delve into the depths.

Certainly I can see Buk changing titles over the years as poems appeared in some "littles" and then again in a full BSP collection, along with some modifications here and there, but it's commonly held that Martin did a fair bit more of this.

Oh, and not to be glib, but posthumously, Martin had no one to call him out, right? ;)
 

nervas

more crickets than friends
Hey, I see. Well thanks for the info Purple. No one needs to go any further, I'm sure you guys are tired of it. Your post makes sense though and gives me an understanding of how, or why it happened.
 
Read it today. No much mind blowing stuff there, but enjoyed it all the same. A worthy addition I reckon. And I loved the cover.
 

Ponder

"So fuck Doubleday Doran"
RIP
Ok, here's my question. I guess I'm naive here, but never thought an editor had that much say in these things. I mean, who makes the changes and then completely renames the poem?
mjp sent us a couple of poems last year.
W've published them but now they look very
Dutch and we added a subtle French flavour.
mjp never complained.
 

mjp

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Ok, here's my question. I guess I'm naive here, but never thought an editor had that much say in these things. I mean, who makes the changes and then completely renames the poem?
Strong editors - such as Ponder and Black Swan - will often suggest changes. For instance, American style to Dutch/French flavor. They have a continental audience to consider, after all. And seriously, Justine chopped an entire stanza from one of the poems I sent to Chance Press. Let me rephrase that; she suggested chopping a stanza, and she was right.

A good editor cares about the work and only wants to publish what they consider good, strong writing. By the 1970s though, many of the little magazine editors were star struck by Bukowski, and would publish whatever he sent without question. All the editorial influence went out the window. Along with quality control.

Martin is a whole other bag of fish heads though. He was not a good editor by any stretch of the imagination, and his creative-writing-class changes to Bukowski's work weaken it. In every case I've seen. Without exception. Great publisher, shitty editor. It's unlikely that anyone other than a handful of obsessive freaks would notice though, so in the scheme of things, his changes will likely stand forever and become part of Bukowski's work. They already are. Unfortunately.

Speaking of which, I felt a few uncharacteristic turns of phrase while reading Absence of the Hero recently. I wonder how far those pieces stray from the manuscripts, if at all.
 

d gray

tried to do his best but could not
Founding member
i can't imagine what his motivation would be to tweak the writing. the changes
seem relatively insubstantial and don't affect the overall impact of the writing
so why do it at all?

was martin a frustrated writer who (subconsciously?) wanted to feel part of the
creative process?

non-creative people involved in business based on artistic creation sometimes have a tendency to try to insert themselves in the process. i've experienced
it myself and it's really annoying not to mention insulting.
 

mjp

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If mjp isn't sick of doing it (no offense, but he probably is), he may weigh in here, as he seems to have a better understanding than I do, but, in a nutshell, Martin apparently made some significant edits through the years...
Well I found the following diatribe I had typed up in response to this, but I held off adding it since I figured I've said enough about this. But I am enamored with myself and everything I type, so I think this is worth posting now. You know, after sober reflection and consideration. And I promise I will never say any of this again, so help me baby Jesus.

I think I keep coming back to this because I'm still, and forever will be, upset that Martin treated Bukowski's work with such indifference. It really chaps my ass, as the kids say. But Martin is JESUS-come-to-visit for a lot of people, and they tend to walk on eggshells around his vaunted name, so we end up with only glowing testimony to his greatness.

If I have to repeat that I respect what he did, I will. Here:

I respect what John Martin did.

It was quite a feat, and I'm glad he did it. Maybe no one else would have done it (a big maybe, but a possibility). I'm pretty sure that no one else would have done it on the scale that he did, anyway.

Having said that...

I think it's clear that Martin changed a lot of things. He'll never admit it, and even if he did, he wouldn't understand why anyone would care. Kind of like the poem selection. BSP was his business and his livelihood, but there are several examples of Martin taking Bukowski's work far less seriously than many of us here do.

So anyway - and finally, let's say - this is why I believe my testimony to be true in the eyes of the lord:

How did Bukowski/Martin work? Early on, Martin reprinted only poems that had been published in literary magazines and periodicals. Soon though, Bukowski was sending manuscript copies of everything he wrote directly to Martin. So I have to ask myself where in that process Bukowski even had a hand on the work to make these small alterations? The Women episode would seem to indicate that he didn't sit down and meticulously read the proofs. So when did he make the small changes?

Bukowski reworked poems, we know that. And he would have sent the reworked manuscripts to Martin as well. But as Women clearly demonstrates, the changes Martin made degraded the writing. The changes to many of the poems are not changes that would have come from Bukowski. Writers have their own style, and Martin's idea of an "improvement" rarely dovetails with Bukowski's style. Quite the opposite, they stick out like sore thumbs, especially if you have read a good amount of Bukowski's work. Again, read the first printing of Women and see if certain words and phrases don't just jump off the page and make you think, "that sounds odd". Then go look at a later printing and you'll see the word or phrase that sounded odd is gone. Because the later printings removed Martin's changes.

Martin (according to Bukowski), trivialized his changes, saying that "the typist" made them. Really? The typist changed the author's work and, what? You just chuckled and carried on with your day? Martin must have thought Bukowski was an idiot to float a bullshit excuse like that.

So yes, blah blah blah. Who cares? Martin certainly doesn't. He giggles behind his blank elf face at ideas like these. He doesn't give a shit. He sold enough office supplies - oh, sorry, books - to retire and now he's shuffling around an empty house in his bathrobe somewhere watching Wheel of Fortune reruns and saving his fingernail clippings in mayonnaise jars.

Martin was pivotal in making Bukowski famous, but he didn't do it single handedly. If that were the case, all the writers he published would be just as well known as Bukowski, and none of them are. Martin was not the ideal editor for Bukowski (in fact he wasn't an editor at all), but Bukowski was grateful for Martin's dedication, so the relationship was always lopsided. In the wrong direction. Bukowski's letters to Martin would seem to show that he felt like the employee in an employee/employer relationship, and if you've ever had a job you know that's a one way street.

Martin obviously enjoyed Bukowski's work. You can see it in his early letters to Bukowski. But that being said, he was also a crafty bastard, and he hitched his wagon to the right star. Nothing wrong with that. Most creative people are not crafty bastards, so unless they meet someone who is, they putter in obscurity. But being a crafty bastard doesn't entitle you to "fix" a creative person's writing or paintings or origami tableaus.
 
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