A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

16 August 2006

Birthday of Another Dead Poet

How that can't be an oxymoron I don't know. Nonetheless, in 1920 on this date, Charles Bukowski was born. I haven't read much of him, but Mme Metro really enjoys his work, and I've liked what I've read.

So, lifted wholesale from the Writer's Almanac for today:
Poem: "Girlfriends," by Charles Bukowski from Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line the Way. © Ecco. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)


the women of the past keep
there was another yesterday
arrived from out of
she wanted to see
I told her

I don't want to see
I won't see them.
it would be
gruesome and

I know some people who can
watch the same movie
more than

not me.
once I know the
once I know the
whether it's happy or
unhappy or
just plain

for me
that movie is
and that's why
I refuse
to let
any of my
old movies play
over and over again


It's the birthday of Charles Bukowski, born in Andernach, Germany (1920). His family moved to Los Angeles when he was two years old. His father was a milkman, and so frustrated with his own life that he became very abusive. He once beat Bukowski with a two-by-four because the son hadn't mowed the lawn correctly.

Bukowski studied literature and journalism for a year at Los Angeles City College. His father threw him out of the house after reading some of Bukowski's stories. For the next several years, he lived as a hobo. He made money working at a slaughterhouse and a dog biscuit factory, and for the American Red Cross. While trying to write, he starved much of the time, limiting himself to one candy bar a day, while he wrote up to five short stories a week. Often he had no typewriter and hand printed his work.

He finally got a steady job as a postal clerk in the fifties. In 1960, when he was forty years old, he published his first book of poetry, Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail (1960).

He published more than fifteen books of fiction and poetry in the next ten years, including Run With the Hunted (1962) and The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills (1969).

Late in his life he said, "Every day I'll wake up around noon. Then I'll go to the track and I'll play the horses. ... Then I'll come back and I'll swim and ... have dinner and I'll go upstairs and I'll sit at the computer and I'll crack me a bottle [of wine] and I'll listen to some Mahler or Sibelius and I'll write, with this rhythm, like always."


Bukowski was also immortalized in the film Barfly, starring Mickey Rourke. My friend and Nanaimo Bulletin writer Eugene Krebs is fond of quoting the drunken toast of Rouke/Bukowski's rummy: "To all my friends!"

His epitaph was: "Don't Try".

On my own account I wish to ask Mme Metro whether there's not a message in the poem above regarding the increasingly unwieldy and unwatched DVD accumulation occupying serious shelf space in the basement?


At 9:23 a.m., Blogger Lori said...

Ah...Now how can I blog on this today?! You beat me to it.

Didn't know you were such a Buk fan. Maybe you won't mind me buying the 4 book set of his letters?

Just let me know. Or, you could get them for me, they're at the bookstore next to your work.


At 10:10 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

Do what I did: lift it and attribute it!

And four more books of his correspondence (note to the Avid Fan: we've already got at least one)?

I suppose I should thank the gods that you don't read Ann Coulter.

At 3:24 a.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

If she read Ann Coulter voluntarily I'd hitchhike up there and beat her till she stopped. No worries.

Do you note, as I do, that Bukowski is death to comments? Try some Burroughs. He may have been a malevolent old asshole, but he's great for hits!

At 10:55 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

Which one--I've never made much of William S., but I always loved Edgar Rice.

--Swings on vine with Tarzan yodels off into the distance--


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