The senseless, tragic rape of Charles Bukowski’s ghost by John Martin’s Black Sparrow Press (1 Viewer)

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
I just came across this one while researching something else. This is why MJP's fight is worth the cause... And why it's worth all of us to pursue the cause.
Unfortunately, the posthumous poetry collections have been patchy at best. In an indisputable act of necrophilia, Ecco has been exploiting the dead poet's odds and ends for years now, mercilessly sullying the back catalogue of one of America's greatest contemporary poets. But since - thankfully - this new collection supposedly marks the end of such acts of desecration, maybe it is time for the Bukowski-doubters to calmly reappraise the man's work, laying aside all former prejudices. Go on. I think you might be pleasantly surprised ...
I have read lots of Bukowski poems in magazines from 1990 - 1993 and in my opinion, he never gave up the ghost. His shit was even angrier and sharper towards the end in a lot of cases. Sure, he was dieing and there are some poems where he is dwelling on that and it is very somber. But he also gets pissed at some points during these years and the switchblade he writes with is classic. He's as mad and angry as when he was much younger... He never became completely soft. Here's one very simple, but very funny example near the end...
 

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Those whoreson dog poems are absolute proof that not only had he not lost his magic, but that his work was deepening right to the finish.
In regards to that, does anyone know or have a reasonable guess as to what his final poem was? Not his last published, but his last written. Maybe this has previously been discussed in a thread.
 

jddougher

Founding member
It's curious that a lot of people who disagree with the facts regarding the of mangling of Bukowski's work would prefer that the subject not be discussed at all. I honestly don't understand that.

Side by side poem comparisons and dissection of Bukowski's work habits aside, this is an interesting issue because the most damning evidence isn't mechanical or technical, but literary. And as such, is open to interpretation.

I can offer one interpretation for the muted response to your work.

I don't know you at all, so I'm not sure how well you take criticism. Let's assume you want to hear honest opinions, though. I read your blog post, and I feel that your very good observations could be delivered in a way that is less inflammatory, less accusatory, and therefore more effective. The title of the blog post alone is distracting, as it draws attention to your own vulgarly-stated conclusions without first allowing the reader the opportunity to participate in the methodology that led to your conclusions. At this point we are all scholars of Bukowski, and I feel as though we need to approach the understanding of this man's work carefully, taking all sides into consideration before we draw conclusions. Certainly we all owe Mr. Martin a great deal of gratitude for allowing Bukowski to write full-time, and I have to imagine that Bukowski himself, in his gratitude toward Mr. Martin, would have afforded the man ample latitude in editing his work. What I'm missing from your analysis is the perspective of Martin himself--or perhaps the perspective of Ecco. I would like to see all sides presented objectively, and I would like to see a more measured tone in your work. Then, I think, your observations would actually be more valuable and would be better received.
 
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Hosh

hoshomccreesh.com
...and I have to imagine that Bukowski himself, in his gratitude toward Mr. Martin, would have afforded the man ample latitude in editing his work...

I don't think that's true...at least not beyond the run-of-the-mill misspellings, and grammar, etc -- which he didn't seem to mind having polished up.

Was it the novel Women that Buk was so upset over how it had been changed that he demanded BSP return to the original manuscript for the 2nd printing? I feel like there are a few letters dealing specifically with how Bukowski felt about being editied so heavily...
 

mjp

Founding member
I can offer one interpretation for the muted response to your work.
I'm not sure how you extrapolated a "muted" response to the articles from anything I've said here. Perhaps you are projecting. The response has been far from muted. What it has been is polarized. People are either sickened and outraged, or they scratch their professor beards and say "You used curse words and there's no academic evidence here! Therefore everything you say is invalid! Invalid!"

Which misses the point. I'm not interested in academia or convincing scholars of anything. As I said in the last article, "anyone with one good eye and half a soul can see it on the page." I leave the academic masturbation to those who find value in such things. I am not one of those people.
I have to imagine that Bukowski himself, in his gratitude toward Mr. Martin, would have afforded the man ample latitude in editing his work.
Yes, I'm sure Bukowski was so indebted to Martin that he would gladly sit aside and watch as Martin mangled and destroyed half of his work and all of his legacy. Why not? Of course Martin waiting until Bukowski was dead to make his wholesale changes kind of contradicts your assumption.
I would like to see a more measured tone in your work.
I would like to see a lot of things. Bukowski's actual writing, a viable American middle class, a Mexican donkey fucking John Martin in the ass - but you know we can't always get what we want. Sometimes we have to make do with what we have.

I hope the preceding met with everyone's standards and expectations. God bless you all.
 
What Mr. Phillips meant to say was that he agrees with those who believe that more academic research should be done, and he fully supports those who engage in such noble endeavors. Furthermore, any references to "Mexican donkeys" are likely the result of nefarious underworld figures "hacking" or "hijacking" Mr. Phillips' account here on the bulletin board, and should be ignored, stricken from the record and reported to authorities.
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
I think that there is a genuine hostility going on, but it's a very touchy subject. We live in an age of horrible conspiracy plots with mad men taking advantage of the ignorant mass of humanity out there. It's so much easier thanks to social media than when Jim Jones had his day. Is MJP a modern day Jim Jones? No. Unlike 911 and the World Trade Center or TWA Flight whatever, you don't need to rely on the opinion of some engineer or an "expert" of some kind to present the evidence and convince you. All you need to understand MJP's argument is a first grade reading ability and a little common sense. It's all there. No one needs to drink the Kool Aid to see it. Sure MJP is pissed off and it comes through. But that's because it's so fucking obvious how much damage has been done and it's hard to take.
 
I was a Martin apologist for a minute because I wanted to find value in the posthumous works, but of
course there is none (except for Betting). But Dougher' s assertion that we are all now Bukowski scholars
is ludicrous. I would never stoop to scholarship regarding Hank' s work, it means too much to me.
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
As much as I wished this wasn't real, it's real. And the reason I wish it wasn't real is because I gave up on my hero and dismissed it as old age and end of life. I dimissed the angriest mother fucker on the planet because I thought he got soft. I now know he never got soft. He may have not been raped, but he was fucked. And I hold Linda accountable every bit as Martin, if for nothing else but being lazy. Rich and lazy...
 

mjp

Founding member
Well, one man's "rich" is another man's "just getting by," isn't it.

But I wouldn't lay any of the blame for the posthumous clusterfuck at Linda's door. Is it her job to compare the finished books to manuscripts? I don't think it is.

We don't know what she knows or doesn't know, but ultimately, editing and publishing the books isn't her responsibility. The responsibility for those lies with one person.
 
Damn. I just saw that comparison and Buk's voice was just gutted. Sad to see. Martin may be putting his two cents in Buk' purse because he's basically the one who sparked Buk's rise to fame. So therefore, he feels he can slice and splice any way he wants. Thanks for bringing this to light, mjp. Now I'm going to go through my Buk books and sort the stupefied ones out.

Now I'm wonderin which of his novels may have been cut up.
 
[...] What I'm missing from your analysis is the perspective of Martin himself--or perhaps the perspective of Ecco. I would like to see all sides presented objectively, [...]
fair enough.

Here's what John Martin has written to me about the case back in 2011, when I've asked him.
(I don't quote the entire thing, but these are the main points.)
" [...] nothing was ever published, prior to Hank's death, without his approval. And that the final poems in the last Black Sparrow books, and in the subsequent Ecco Press books, had all been edited by me, and approved by Hank, prior to his death.
[...] There are certainly typescript drafts of many of these poems still floating around. If these early drafts differ from later published versions, so be it. That is the natural result of the process I have explained above.
[...] Frankly I cannot see that there is any controversy here. I should add that the usual author/editor relationship is a private COLLABORATION. It involves a continual back-and-forth discussion between the author and the editor. [...] I would also like to add that the author/editor relationship is both private and personal, and is not usually shared with curious third parties. [...] "
There's a short article by me on the subject in German language HERE. Maybe an English translation will follow if there's any demand.

B.t.w.:
Today's Mr. Martin's birthday.
I'll drink to it tonight.
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
But I wouldn't lay any of the blame for the posthumous clusterfuck at Linda's door. Is it her job to compare the finished books to manuscripts? I don't think it is.

I have to disagree with you on this one MJP. Unless Linda was so detached from his work by the time he died (and afterwards), I can’t imagine the same thing that occurred to you would not have occurred to her after reading a few posthumous poems. She didn’t need to actually compare anything to sense something was amiss.

And I guess the only reason I point to her is because she was the only one who had any real power to prevent it from continuing. It could have been stopped at some point if she had the interest to do something about it. Instead, a lot more edited books got printed.

But maybe she had read and lived enough Bukowski in his lifetime and didn’t have the stomach or interest for it after some point. Maybe she didn’t even bother to read the posthumous poems.
 

mjp

Founding member
My point is - and this doesn't only apply to writers - just because you were married to someone doesn't make you qualified to "oversee" their posthumous career. Nor does it mean you'd necessarily have any interest in doing so. The rights to creative work (usually) go to immediate family on an artists death, but those rights don't magically make those heirs experts in their dead relative's field. So holding them to any standard isn't reasonable.

I'll say this, esart and I spoke to Linda in Pasadena when The Continual Condition was published, and here was her comment to us on the book: she held it up and looked at the cover and said, "Isn't it adorable!" Nothing about what was inside. And that's pretty consistent with every conversation we've ever had with her, individually or separately (whether she was imbibing or not, and whether we were having a pleasant conversation or she was screaming at me - just saying).

I can't say I have any insight into her interest in the work other than the interaction I've had with her, so take that as anecdotal.
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
Thanks MJP. That provides a nice bit of perspective. We agree who is ultimately responsible. It's not fair of me to point fingets at anyone else.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
There's a short article by me on the subject in German language HERE. Maybe an English translation will follow if there's any demand.

I sure would'nt mind an English translation and I'll bet I'm not the only one.
 
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esart

esart.com
Founding member
My point is - and this doesn't only apply to writers - just because you were married to someone doesn't make you qualified to "oversee" their posthumous career. Nor does it mean you'd necessarily have any interest in doing so. The rights to creative work (usually) go to immediate family on an artists death, but those rights don't magically make those heirs experts in their dead relative's field. So holding them to any standard isn't reasonable.

Actually, if he didn't have a will - a will that was executed with a lawyer and all that - the state decides all that shit, even his house, even if they are married. It's just most likely that it will all go to the spouse. But I understand your point about her not being qualified or having rights to oversee the posthumous career. That's just redonkulous. But she is considered immediate family by the way, as far as achieving creative rights. My guess is that he did not have a will and the state divided those rights up between Linda and his daughter. ?Maybe?
 

mjp

Founding member
@roni, that video is great. Even if I didn't understand most of it. You made an engaging presentation there, which is sure to get across to more people than a dry, boring recital. Nice work.

You should have embedded it in your post, you humble bastard. So I took the liberty of doing that for you.
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
the gall to say something like "the author/editor relationship is personal and private" - and therefore above reproach, it woud seem - is just mind-bending.
 
"Die meisten, die auf dem Gebiet geforscht haben, brauchten immer wieder mal eine Pause und psychatrische Behandlungen um den Schock zu verkraften!"

That statement isn't an exaggeration at all. With every new example of these forgeries, incredible anger rises in me. It really hurts!
 

zobraks

Moderator
Hey, Roni, that was one hell of a performance art piece!

P.S. You look like and talk very much like one my old friends. :)
 

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