Unsigned manuscript... (1 Viewer)

I just picked this up on eBay as an impulse buy. No Sig and no address, and fairly certain it's a carbon. Still thought it was an interesting piece. Anybody else have any unsigned mss?
I know this was in Love Is a Dog, but don't know much else.

photo.JPG
 

mjp

Founding member
I had a couple from that same batch, with the "notes" page number scribbled out on top (airplane spin and the anarchists). But they were signed.

Here are some more with the scribbled out "notes" header:

http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...oem1975-07-19-one-for-the-jag.jpg&workid=4937
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...975-07-19-to_the_soul-seekers.jpg&workid=3502
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...poem1975-07-22-a_lovely_couple.jpg&workid=329
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/displaymanuscript.php?show=poem1975-07-22-beer.jpg&workid=4709
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...ow=poem1975-07-22-the_fathead.jpg&workid=3110
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/displaymanuscript.php?show=poem1975-07-22-visitor.jpg&workid=3847
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/displaymanuscript.php?show=poem1975-08-05-piranhas.jpg&workid=2419
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...ow=poem1975-08-31-garter_belt.jpg&workid=1308
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...oem1975-08-31-the_famous_poet.jpg&workid=3107
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...oem1975-09-06-half_a_goldfish.jpg&workid=1391
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...5-09-06-my_father_and_the_bum.jpg&workid=2061
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/displaymanuscript.php?show=poem1975-09-06-the_genius.jpg&workid=4710
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/displaymanuscript.php?show=poem1975-09-15-chauv_poem.jpg&workid=843
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/displaymanuscript.php?show=poem1975-09-15-cockroach.jpg&workid=878
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...9-15-she_caught_it_in_the_air.jpg&workid=2664
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/displaymanuscript.php?show=poem1975-09-15-the_joke.jpg&workid=4455
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...=poem1975-11-02-entertainment.jpg&workid=1125
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...em1975-11-02-the_little_girls.jpg&workid=3274
http://bukowski.net/manuscripts/dis...ow=poem1975-11-2-the_good_guy.jpg&workid=3162

I suspect that he typed all of these on the same day, for a notes of a dirty old man column (I know the original Open City "notes" was in the 60s, but he used the title in other places too), then when they didn't work as a group - or he just decided not to send them as a group - he parceled them out over the next few months.

Another interesting thing if you look at the manuscripts from this time period in 1975 is this is when all of the infamous "starred" manuscripts appear. You know, the ones that he supposedly marked for posthumous publication. I guess there were only a couple months in 1975 where he felt his work should be held until he was dead. Sure.


By the way, is that yellow paper or just bad lighting?
 
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Hi skiroom, I suppose one of your questions was about the "value" of an unsigned manuscript.

As far as I know (and have experienced in PBA-auctions for quite some time now), from a strict collector's pov it decreases the value a lot if there's no signature. So, if being an honored collector is your aim: don't care for unsigneds and do go for his autograph on the paper in any case.

On the other hand: from the pov of a scholar or archivist (is this an English word?) with no monetary intentions - an unsigned manuscript is not less welcomed (except for the lacking date that is) and does offer chances to buy Top-manuscripts at low prizes.

From that kind of view (and of course I'm talking about me and the Buk-Society now) it's way more important to have handmade corrections or remarks, so you can see the way he worked. I've once bought a whole bunch of legit manuscripts (carbons only but with handmade corrections on the actual carbons) for a ridiculous prize compared to signed ones.

At the end of the day or the year it all depends on what you're after, personally.
But NEVER FORGET to scan them and send to mjp for this site!!
(it's the minimum, we can give back, ye?)

Another interesting thing if you look at the manuscripts from this time period in 1975 is this is when all of the infamous "starred" manuscripts appear. You know, the ones that he supposedly marked for posthumous publication.
oh! I always thought, the stars were not marks by Bukowski but by John Martin to indicate it was a poem he would publish. But I can't even recognize the source for this believe, so most likely I'm wrong.

However, what struck me on one of the manuscripts you linked above (of course, due to this thread's subject I had a sensual filter for signatures) was, that on one poem ('piranhas') he used a red pen for a change to sign it.

I imagine, that he hadn't signed this manuscript in the first place (like some in the provenance of skiroom) and when he showed up in the BSP-office, Martin (the business-man) tipped his finger at this paper and 'asked' Bukowski to sign, so Buk grabbed the editor's pen (red color) and did so. Of course this is just wild imagination.
 

mjp

Founding member
I always thought, the stars were [...] by John Martin to indicate it was a poem he would publish.
We'd have to see Martin's copies of the manuscripts to know if or how he marked or categorized them. I'm not sure that any of the manuscripts that we have came from Martin. But I am pretty sure that the "stars" we can see here were made by Bukowski. This one shows a Bukowski correction with the same pen...

The whole star fantasy (the idea that Bukowski was setting aside poems for posthumous publication, but only the really good ones) falls apart the minute you ask yourself if it makes any logical sense. It does not. Someone misinterpreted something somewhere and that story took hold somehow.

But if someone believes it, they believe it. You can't really convince them not to. Logic doesn't enter in to it. I was reading something this morning, some kid made some art around "find what you love and let it kill you," and in the comments someone said it wasn't Bukowski and pointed to that Houston newspaper article (that points here). The guy who made the art basically said he doesn't care what some newspaper says.

So shine on, star people.
 

mjp

Founding member
Based on where and when he said the reading was, it looks like this one was written in the last week of May, 1975. For what it's worth.
 

cirerita

Founding member
When sending Martin a batch of poems, Bukowski used stars to let Martin know which were his favorite poems in that batch. Rather than telling Martin, "hey, set those aside for posterity", I think he was actually saying, "these are the ones I'd like to see published in the next book."
 

mjp

Founding member
If the starred examples that we have came from Martin, then it stands to reason other manuscripts that have come to the market have also come from Martin. If that's the case, and the star story is true, we should expect to see the stars for more than a few months.

Even if we assume that Bukowski marked the 1975 poems with the intention of sending them to Martin, but instead sent them to someone else, then we also have to assume the same thing would have happened at other times. But the stars are completely absent from the manuscripts except for those few months in 1975.

Maybe you've seen more stars than we have. But from what we have here, and the thousand other manuscripts I have that aren't on the site yet, I see no stars outside of 1975.
 

cirerita

Founding member
As far as I recall, Bukowski used stars for a short period of time in the 1970s only -for some reason, I thought it was actually in 1970, but it seems it was in 1975. It was not a regular practice by any means. I might be wrong, but I think the idea of using stars for the best poems was actually Martin's, not Bukowski's -which would explain why Bukowski gave up on that idea so fast.
 

mjp

Founding member
P.S. Bring them out, bring them out!
For every manuscript image the file has to be corrected/adjusted/combined (for multi-page poems) and the poem has to be searched to see if it's been published, and then dated (many in this most recent group are undated). Depending on the poem that can take 20 minutes or more. Sometimes much more. I have about 800 here that are cell phone images, so they're going to require even more processing. Then each one has to be uploaded to the CDN and entered in to the database.

So figure that even if it averages out at 15 minutes per manuscript (a conservative estimate), you're talking about 250 hours of work. In the real world, if I stand in front of the computer for an entire weekend I can do 60 or 70. But it's repetitious and boring, so on the rare occasions when I have spent an entire weekend on them, by Sunday night I never want to see another manuscript again.

In case anyone is wondering what the hold up is.
 
I actually bought this to resell, but if it never does, that's fine with me. I'm not overly concerned with
the value, I paid $415 all in, so who knows if that will ultimately be a "good deal." I really don't care.
I just paid stupid money (am still paying) for the ribbon and presumably only copy of The Days Run Away
mss, which is also unsigned. What's interesting to me about that is it was written on Mariposa but wasn't
published until Hearse in I think 1970. That one is for my kids to deal with after I'm gone.
To me the manuscripts are real history and aside from the early chaps, are as close as I can get to
Bukowski.
 

mjp

Founding member
I just paid stupid money (am still paying) for the ribbon [...] copy of The Days Run Away...
Well, up through 1967 they were all ribbon copies, which is probably why you don't see hundreds of 1960s manuscripts for sale (any more, anyway). So whatever you paid, you got a deal.

Ribbon copies of poem manuscripts from the carbon or Xerox eras are also extremely rare out in the wild, so if you ever come across those, they're a good buy too. I've only seen two on the market in the past 15 years or so.
 
I'm not sure that any of the manuscripts that we have came from Martin.
A lot did: Most (if not all) of the Scott-Harrison-sales we've seen on ebay over the last years came directly from Martin.
(That's what Harrison claimed and given their known relationship I see no reason to disbelieve it.)

I remember having read about the stars in one of the PBA-sales years ago, but will need some time to look up my page-screenshot of that particular info from back then (and of course, PBA is not the holy grail of inside-information on Buk, but still).
 

mjp

Founding member
Most (if not all) of the Scott-Harrison-sales we've seen on ebay over the last years came directly from Martin.
When I say "the manuscripts that we have," I kind of mean what's on the main site, and almost all of those go back to the first round of Harrison sales, back in the early '00s. I don't think, or I haven't seen, Martin let loose of any working manuscripts.

But those working manuscript files would answer all kinds of questions if/when they ever become available. They may show things he doesn't necessarily want anyone to see. Like exactly how heavily the editorial pen, such as it was, was used from 1994 on. And perhaps how lightly it was used (on the poetry, anyway) before that.

Or he could have burned all of those already. The manuscripts covered with his changes. I would have. A good criminal editor always tries to cover their tracks.
 
at least the few manuscripts from me are from Harrison (even though I bought them via PBA they came with certificates of provenance and authentication from him).


Of course I would not assume any of the "edited" (pronunciation = "butchered") manuscripts to appear in public at this time.

Talking of "covering the tracks", I have a suspect, that all those manuscripts in question have been printed from a computer showing no sign of Bukowski's hand and JM would claim Bukowski did all those changes when he, Bukowski, already used the Apple. His words when I asked him about the changes couple a years ago pointed in that direction to my ears.

Of course, with such a sort of computer-"manuscript" nobody would be able to give evidence of a fraud. Thus, JM could try to look good.
But claiming this sort of manuscript "legit" would mean, Bukowski had nothing better to do in his last 3 years than changing hundreds of old poems (a thing he never cared for in the past) while he was writing a 400-pages-volume of new poems and a complete novel - oh, and fighting cancer btw.
 

mjp

Founding member
To me there is no question about what happened. I don't need to see evidence, the evidence is on the pages of the books.

Other people though, those who are quick to dismiss or trivialize the idea of tampering, they will never be convinced without some kind of evidence. And even evidence won't convince some of them.
 
I don't need to see evidence, the evidence is on the pages of the books.
I'm with you - as you know - that we, the experts, don't need any further "evidence" to see what had happened.
That's because we've seen so much of it by now; and we know so much about Bukowski [and also about the background].

But: to "get" and convince the non-experts we need to be able to deliver the same as what's needed in a courtroom: Something that 'the Jury' would take as 'evidence'.

And bit-by-bit we are bringing it up. You are bringing it up. Every new comparison that you publish, contributes to this evidence.
 

mjp

Founding member
I'm not sure that the comparisons are ever going to change the mind of anyone who doesn't believe that anything bad happened. They all say the same thing over and over, "How do you know Bukowski didn't make those changes?"

The only thing that will convince someone who can't see the difference in the style or quality of the changes is going to be written evidence. But even if that kind of evidence were to come to light most people would say, so what? Who cares?

So I can't really lose any sleep over not being able to convince them of something. I'm not really trying anymore. Now and then when I come across something particularly obnoxious I'll mention it, but I know I'm preaching to the choir, and I'm mainly doing it just to vent.
 

cirerita

Founding member
As far as I recall, Bukowski used stars for a short period of time in the 1970s only -for some reason, I thought it was actually in 1970, but it seems it was in 1975. It was not a regular practice by any means. I might be wrong, but I think the idea of using stars for the best poems was actually Martin's, not Bukowski's -which would explain why Bukowski gave up on that idea so fast.
https://bukowskiforum.com/threads/o-thy-starry-poems.7331/
 
Thanks, cire! Now it's clear.
I seemed to remember, the stars indicate good ones / to be published, but had in mind it would have been Martin to mark them that way.

Just to complete the many diverse thoughts on the stars, here's what PBA once stated:
I remember having read about the stars in one of the PBA-sales years ago, but will need some time to look up [...]
"Bukowski puts a star in the margin of manuscript to indicate Bukowski’s fondness for the piece, according to his Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin. Michael Phillips, who sold the poem to Ross Runfola, however, points to “4-notes-buk” on the top of the poem and “next poem” on the bottom (both of which which Bukowski crossed out) to say that this and other poems with the star only signify that they are part of a larger manuscript."

That statement regarded Lot 159 in Sale 455 (June 2, 2011 - The Runfola-Collection)
 

mjp

Founding member
Yeah, well I came to that conclusion because most of the asterisks were on poems from that "notes" batch, we rarely saw them anywhere else, and he only did it for a couple of months. Abel's post with Bukowski's "good one" note proves me wrong.

But the reason the asterisks were a point of contention in the first place is because someone started saying that they were meant to mark poems to be published after Bukowski died, and since someone said it, everyone repeated it. That is so ridiculous and illogical that I wanted to find another explanation. I'll never cry about being proven wrong - especially by, you know, facts - and I'm good with any explanation that puts the hold-until-I'm-dead foolishness to rest.
 

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