Thoughts on Ginsberg and Bukowski
For anyone interested in Ginsberg as a stand-alone poet and the workings of his mind, separate from any specific comments on Bukowski, or vice versa, I'd like to suggest getting your hands on "Voices & Visions: Walt Whitman." This is a VHS tape I happened to stumble upon at the community library. (It's out of print but may still be available at auctions or some libraries.)
The tape has a controversial interview of Ginsberg on his take of Whitman as the first "urban poet," and Ginsberg goes on to say that, in addition to his own abilities as a poet, he is Whitman's literary descendent, because Whitman was homosexual and Whitman slept with this certain guy, and many years later that guy slept with another certain guy, and so on, until that guy slept with Ginsberg"”voila!"”the "direct" literary descendent of Whitman through this historical series of sexual encounters (You coulda knocked me over with a feather.)
I bring this up not to be controversial but in reference to some of Bukowski's comments on the homosexual poets. I forget where, but Bukowski wondered, in some of his earlier writings (in the 1960s?), why it had been up to the homosexual poets, implying Whitman and not mentioning Ginsberg by name, to advance the development of poetry overall? Why were they the ones? This is his indirect acknowledgment of Ginsberg's influence on modern poetry, at the same time that Bukowski was saying, words to the effect, "well, what gives here?"
In contrast, I feel that Bukowski was trying to advance poetry from a different source, let's say, genderless, not just homosexual, perspective"”whatever that means. I believe Bukowski felt there was a need for this, and that's the point of view he was coming from, not being homosexual himself, but still aware of the impact of sexuality on someone like Whitman or Ginsberg, and feeling separate from that.
Now, the subject of a person's sexual persuasion on the creative process is a huge one, but even the great Bukowski, voracious and critical reader that he was, thought about it, and where he fit in, or wanted to fit in, or came from as an artist, to make his own contribution and advance modern poetry. His results, of course, were historic, but the problem is that Ginsberg was famous before Bukowski.
As for myself, I have enjoyed both Whitman and Bukowski immensely but was never a fan of Ginsberg. In "Howl", when Ginsberg talks about the "negro streets," I never forgave him for, to me, imitating his hero, Jack Kerouac, who had written more aptly before him about the "fellahin
streets," and I felt that Ginsberg was not an original; he was simply writing in reaction to things, in a way that was derivative and overly self-important, being too aware of himself and his public stature as a poet. Perhaps I was unfair; but it's too late now, and I'd rather read Whitman, e.e. cummings, and Bukowski, not to mention a few others. Anyhow...
Best wishes, Poptop