Charles "Hank" Bukowski (1920-1994)
on march 9, 1994 we lost one of the greatest american poets. i was in thailand at the time that i heard the news and deeply saddened by the loss of charles bukowski. also known as "buk," "hank," and in his writings by his character, "henry chinaski." when i returned from overseas i was surprised that none of my friends back here had heard the news. but then, it seems bukowski has alway enjoyed a greater international audience than a domestic following. i can't account for the news coverage because i wasn't here, but it sounded like this was another footnote excluded by mainstream press. for some, that's o.k. for me, facing the absurdity of a football star's debacle garnering a million-fold more press resources than a voice of truth, well... sometimes the irony gets too hot around my collar and i have to spout a little, as i am now.
black sparrow press has graciously allowed me to reprint a poem of his here. when i first read it years ago it hit me like all his greats.
this is an experimental page, but it's not free from copyright law. so distribute and link to it freely, open your friends up to bukowski, forward and reproduce it electronically for personal use only, BUT DO NOT REPRODUCE IT FOR COMMERCIAL USE. the people at black sparrow are cool -- buk trusted them throughout his prolific career -- so if for any reason you want to reproduce one of buk's poems including the one posted here, go through the same approval cycle i did: call & write them at: black sparrow press, 24 tenth street, santa rosa, ca 95401, usa. telephone (707) 579-4011. fax (707) 579-0567.
to the whore who took my poemssome say we should keep personal remorse from the
stay abstract, and there is some reason in this,
twelve poems gone and I don't keep carbons and you have
paintings too, my best ones; its stifling:
are you trying to crush me out like the rest of them?
why didn't you take my money? they usually do
from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner.
next time take my left arm or a fifty
but not my poems:
I'm not Shakespeare
but sometime simply
there won't be any more, abstract or otherwise;
here'll always be mony and whores and drunkards
down to the last bomb,
but as God said,
crossing his legs,
I see where I have made plenty of poets
but not so very much
"to the whore who took my poems" Copyrightę 1974 by Charles Bukowski. Reprinted from _Burning_in_Water_Drowning_in_Flame:_Selected_Poems_1955-1973_ with written permission of Black Sparrow Press.
here's the bio provided by black sparrow press:
An internationally famous figure in contemporary poetry and prose, Charles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany in 1920, and brought to the United States at the age of three. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for fifty years. He died in San Pedro, California on March 9,1994 at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel. He published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He published more than forty-five books of poetry and prose in his lifetime, the most recent of which were _The_Last_Night_of_the_Earth_Poems_ (Black Sparrow, 1992), _Screams_from_the_Balcony:_Selected_Letters_1960-1970_ (Black Sparrow, 1993) and his last novel, _Pulp_ (Black Sparrow, 1994). All of his books have now been published in translation in over a dozen languages and his popularity remains undiminished. In he years to come Black Sparrow will publish additional volumes of poetry and letters.
for my money, i'd read Laughing with the Gods, by fernanda pivano to get a late interview, some insight into his approach to the work and living, along with some biographical content. you can also get a decent background on buk in a book by neeli cherkovski called, _hank_the_life_of_charles_bukowski_ published by random house, 1991. another bio getting good reviews is charles bukowski : locked in the arms of a crazy life, by howard sounes. newbies appreciate the background and the hard core believers want a more definitive biography. you can't satisfy everyone...
List of books:below is a good, short-list of published works by bukowski, compiled a while ago.
Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail (1960)
*Books by Black Sparrow Presshere is contact information for black sparrow press:
black sparrow press, 24 tenth street, santa rosa,
ca 95401, usa.