Charles Bukowski

Why do I like Bukowski so much?

His ability to say the profoundest of things in the most commonsensical way. His disregard for correctness in form. The complete lack of any kind of self-pity, even when he is describing the worst parts of his life. An almost Zen-like detachment at times in describing the horrors of soul-less working class living. And the wonder of not losing passion in that detachment. There is crudity too (I think that when a woman has kept her legs closed / for 35 years / it's too late / either for love / or for / poetry), in a very working-class Stanley Kowalski way.

Reading Bukowski to me means a lot of underlining... words to savour separately again and again. Here are some underlined ones from a Bukowski collection I just read.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- fight for each minute is to

fight for what is possible within


so that your life and your death

will not be like


be not like them

and you will


minute by



beware women grown


who were never

anything but



it's not so much that nothing means

anything but more that it keeps meaning


there's no release, just gurus and self-

appointed gods and hucksters.

the more people say, the less there is to say.

even the best books are dry sawdust.


If you’re going to try, go all the
Otherwise, don’t even start.
If you’re going to try, go all the
This could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.
Go all the way.
It could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
It could mean freezing on a
park bench.
It could mean jail,
It could mean derision,
Isolation is the gift.
All the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
And you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.
If you’re going to try,
go all the way.
There is no other feeling like
You will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with
Do it.
All the way.
You will ride life straight to
perfect laughter.


To end up alone
in a tomb of a room
without cigarettes
or wine--
just a lightbulb
and a potbelly,
and glad to have
the room. the morning
they're out there
making money:
judges, carpenters,
plumbers, doctors,
newsboys, policemen,
barbers, carwashers,
dentists, florists,
waitresses, cooks,
and you turn over
to your left side
to get the sun
on your back
and out
of your eyes.


Anonymous said…
as prolific a writer/poet as he was, his epitaph says 'dont try' & apparently its a message to people in the creative arts in some sense, telling them not to wear themselves out thinking for an idea, he says let the idea come to you...
small talk said…
yes... read about that.

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