Today would have been Charles Bukowski’s 93rd birthday*. Ever since I started writing poetry, I’ve had a fascination with Bukowski: His writing style, his curmudgeonly persona. He had a very rough childhood, with a strict upbringing, and episodes of bullying. Some say he suffered from dyslexia, which contributed to depression and his subsequent alcoholism. He suffered early rejection in his writing career and even gave it up for a time. Eventually, he returned to writing with a distinct style. He’s not the kind of writer that appeals to everyone…you either love or hate him. His poetry can be very blunt and crass, but at the same time, insightful to the plights and depravity of everyday urban living. I don’t want to glorify the lifestyle**, yet, his ability to condense his own issues into compelling poetry can’t be denied. He rarely made use of metaphor and subtlety, but relied solidly on direct language, anecdotes, and his own experiences.
I don’t want to run the risk of violating someone’s copywrite, so I won’t share any of his poems here. But, I’ll direct you to the Poetry Foundation website as a start if you are interested. And these really only scratch the surface. The man was an incredibly prolific author/poet***.
Because I consider Bukowski influential, I’ve been known to “attempt” mimicking his style (for better or for worse) or at least channel him. I think most poets/writers have an influential style that they sometimes attempt.
A Hand to Bukowski
What Matters Most
*Bukowski died in 1994 from leukemia.
**Among other things, Bukowski wrote of his numerous affairs, sex with prostitutes, violence, drinking, and gambling.
***Bukowski wrote more than forty books of poetry, prose and novels while living. There have been nine compilations of “new” poetry published since his death.