the Meat school of poetry

Dora

Over 100 posts
#1
Hi everyone,
So here I am, spending all my summer days locked up in my room, typing my dissertation -finally. I have finished most of the first chapter where I was supposed to put Bukowski in the literary context of his time. Don't worry, not forcing any label on him, though I tried to make it very clear why one should stop calling him a Beat writer.

But then it dawned on me...at some point I should have mentionned the Meat school of poetry.
I came across that term in a few places, but it is still extremely vague, and I can't find any detailed information. I know which poets were supposed to be part of that movement, but I cannot find:

-who came up with that term in the first place
-who identified with it
-and most important: did Bukowski embrace/accept the label? I would think not, but need to be sure.

If you can refer me to books or article that go deeper in detail, or have inside information of any sort, I'd be forever grateful.
 

David

Over 500 posts
#3
But then it dawned on me...at some point I should have mentionned the Meat school of poetry.
I came across that term in a few places, but it is still extremely vague, and I can't find any detailed information.
I'm not sure, but it may be Doug Blazek who came up with this when he started publishing Ole...I'm think Johannes is right and that Bukowski wouldn't have used or liked the term...
 
#4
Blazek is a very good possibility, and I didn't see any use of the term in the introductory material to the Ole series until I got to the Anthology. On the sixth page of the Anthology introduction (the pages aren't numbered), Blazek writes: "POETRY WITH BALLS! POETRY THAT IS DANGEROUS! MEAT POETRY! Juice to make the ears jump...SOMETHING! as Bukowski says."

You can see that it's not possible to definitively attribute the coining of the term to Blazek from this, but I don't think that the last line I quoted is attributing it to Bukowski either.

At least you can cite this as an early use of the term (the Ole Anthology is from 1967), I would think.

If Blazek did coin the term, then Buk is associated with the Meat School whether he would have wanted to be or not (and I agree that he would likely not). Two newspaper articles also ID him as such; one from the LA Times (on this great site) and another the Obituary notice from the Baltimore Sun:

http://bukowski.net/poems/latarticle.php

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1994-03-10/features/1994069173_1_bukowski-prolific-writer-alcohol
 
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BukFan Brad

Over 100 posts
#6
In all the writings and interviews that I've read by and with Bukowski, I don't recall him ever stating that he belonged to any group or movement, he never formally acknowledged belonging to anything. He saw a weakness with artists forming groups. I think it was John Fante who inspired him with this approach.
 

Dora

Over 100 posts
#7
Thank you so much guys for your precious help, and sorry for the late response (as I barely see the light of the day these days!).
 

roni

Over 5000 posts
#8
I seem to remember the same what cirerita's post suggests, that it was Richmond who came up with the term.

I also think I've read that attribution in Neeli's book.
(Neeli also makes a valuable point, that Bukowski despised the grouping of the Beats for the cozy effect of how they practized it and that he DID like and feel connected to the mimeo-movement/ 'meat poetry' for they where more like an 'anti-group', staying individuals through the process of working in one direction.
So, other than most here, I Do believe, that during the time in the mid-60s, Buk would have considered himself part of that 'group' or 'movement'. Maybe in later yeras he would've denied that.)
 
#9
In all the writings and interviews that I've read by and with Bukowski, I don't recall him ever stating that he belonged to any group or movement, he never formally acknowledged belonging to anything. He saw a weakness with artists forming groups. I think it was John Fante who inspired him with this approach.
Sounds like a decent theory, considering fante constantly was being shafted by the screenwriter's guild and all the movie houses, that claimed to have some kind of writers union, but all these groups couldn't prevent
how expendable writers are often viewed. And surely it was much different with the aspect of writing scripts, where they just need to change this, this, this, and then you never see any money. Or there were even occasions where fante's scripts got so distant from where he started by additions/edits from other people, he'd refuse to have his name on it anymore. I know I've seen instances of this in his selected letters, and I feel like Bukowski and Fante were both hotheaded or too single minded to properly work in groups. If you're apart of something you have to live up to something, and both wanted everything on their own terms, which is a pretty noble cause if you ask me
 

BukFan Brad

Over 100 posts
#10
I agree. I think both Fante & Buk wanted everything on their own terms, so they had to go it alone. For Buk, he couldn't get it all on his own terms in the workplace, so he did not compromise with his art, he wanted a sense of total control.
 
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yougetso

Over 100 posts
#11
Bukowski and Fante were both hotheaded or too single minded
Or they were just good artists who knew the value of their work and didn't enjoy the spectacle of watching those same works fall beneath the scalpel of some Hollywood hack jobs.

But maybe I'm splitting hairs here, you say potato I say potahto. Continue with your superficial name calling and dilletantish labeling if you must.
 

mjp

The stone that the builder refused
Moderator
Founding member
Over 5000 posts
#12
I think it was John Fante who inspired him with this approach.
Extremely unlikely.

Why would he have to be "inspired" anyway? Sometimes people have feelings and opinions about things without taking them from some external source.
 
#13
Or they were just good artists who knew the value of their work and didn't enjoy the spectacle of watching those same works fall beneath the scalpel of some Hollywood hack jobs.

But maybe I'm splitting hairs here, you say potato I say potahto. Continue with your superficial name calling and dilletantish labeling if you must.
Yeah I guess I could have elaborated I meant perhaps they were too hotheaded/ single minded to play well with others in these groups. I agree with you pointing out that too, it's definitely the mark of a good artist to not compromise their values. I by no means am defending the people who hack up Buk/ Fante work, I guess I should be more careful with my phrasing here on these forums of people who know way more than me... haha
 
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Dora

Over 100 posts
#15
Since we are talking about Bukowski's individualism: I don't think Fante inspired him on this, but he often cited Robinson Jeffers as an example of a poet-recluse to emulate.

But Fante and Bukowski did have Los Angeles in common. In his introduction to the anthology he edited, Bukowski explained that Los Angeles was an ideal place for him because it offered isolation. And in all my readings, the theme of Los Angeles as a place where writers can keep their individuality comes all the time. Here is a 1958 quote from James Boyer May on Los Angeles:
“First, there has been and is no 'movement', no 'underground' no 'school', however inchoate. There HAS been widening interest in experimental writing of many sorts not slanted for mass consumption...Next the active writers exhibit intense individualities which have been confirmed by their failure to hold together any of the groups which have each disappeared almost before defined...Thus, and third, there is no leader and no voice; and each poet has spoken mainly for his personal ideas...One valid generalization, at least must be that a romantic chaos of creativities foams the length of this seaboard”

And at the 1975 Free Press symposium:

"Koertge:Well that's the thing about L.A., it's so big. It's such a fucking octopus that you can get away.

Locklin: There aren't literary movements, there aren't literary groups, particularly in L.A. There are lots of creative people who don't see each other that often. I see Bukowski about once every year. Ron and I are very close friends, and I might see him every couple of months.

Koetge: I haven't seen Steve for six years."
 
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BukFan Brad

Over 100 posts
#16
I don't think L.A. as a place where writers could keep their individualism had any influence on Bukowski.

Like Fante, he simply saw the joining of groups and movements as a sign of weakness for a writer and wanted to take the writing world on all by himself.
 

Dora

Over 100 posts
#17
Not that it necessarily had an "influence", but he did say that L.A. offered the isolation he craved. If he wanted to be part of a literary clique, he could have moved to SF or even NY, like other writers did before.
 
#18
Hello, my name is Chuck Taylor. I'm the author of "At the Heart," "Poet and Vampire," and "Magical, Fantasical, Alphabetical Soup," among other books. I shared a book done by Maelstrom Press with Steve Richmond. My part was called "Drinking in a Dry County." I also appeared in small press magazines with Bukowski in the 1970's, one I recall had Charles Bukowski and Linda King kissing on a mattress on the floor. I related to the "meat school of poetry." It was a group of poetry who shared similar aesthetics without knowing each other much or talking much to each other. We were poor and lived in run down apartments. We liked to fuck and drink beer. We wrote about the life we lived that was a bit on the edge, as we worked crappy jobs on and off, but we weren't starving. We hated the system and its politics, and we hated the nine to five. We spoke directly and our poetry was based on interesting lives more than on fancy poetry technique. We were fairly well read in poetry and could sneak in technique if it didn't appear too obvious. We didn't mind sweating and dirt. Sweat and dirt meant life. We'd claim Bukoswki as a meat poet whether he liked it or not. Our poetry was easy to read and understand. We told stories out of the everyday. Buk's poem of the guy's old car breaking down in LA heavy traffic, they jumping out of the car, throwing open the hood, saying "Aw Shit," and then Buk saying it was the only sign of life he's seen all day -- that was meat poetry, a celebration of life lived in the sweat and dirt. It is populist, even if few of the populace read it. Slap that meat. Grab some ass!
 

David

Over 500 posts
#20
Small world...If this is the same Chuck Taylor who owned Paperback Plus bookshop in Austin, Texas, howdy.
I used to frequently go to your cool store when I was a grad student at UT.
 
#21
Yep, same world. Same person. How about that? Good ol' Paperbacks Plus, altho the roaches were bad. One store remains in Mesquite. My old partner is trying to keep his new brand name, Lucky Dog Books, still alive. Hard to do in the era of ebooks and online stores. I suppose meat poetry, and the Buk, are all about asserting that life is more important than art's technique. Elizabeth Bishop seems to be worshipped now. We've come a long way.
 
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