Pleasures Of The Damned: Musings on Charles Bukowski


Everything in life, I am learning as the years go by, is subjective. In other words, I don’t care about your opinion as much as you don’t care about mine. Nothing in art is right and nothing is wrong. It is what it is.
Charles Bukowski was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer born in Germany and lived in California for the majority of his life. The subject matter was mainly based in the latter – the down and outs, the women, the drinking and the thing that bugged him the most – the life of a working person. Bukowski came from a very humble place, he wasn’t born a rich middle class kid that wrote to pass the time in Daddy’s getaway, he didn’t particularly get a lucky break on a bestseller; he worked for it but uncompromisingly so. He did his own thing and he was highly rewarded for it. So, what is it that people hate so much? For many years people have pondered, they have dissected, pulled apart, ripped apart and then put poetry back together like a little puzzle, a mathematical equation. Books have been written, seminars have taken place and people have spent years studying the various types of poetry- none of this never really interested Bukowski. He hated Shakespeare and found most poetry pretty damn boring. Art, any type, should always make you feel something whether that be sickness, sadness, disgust, love or lust – what are we expected to feel when we think something is well put together? Bukowski however, flipped poetry on its head and created something else. Free verse meant freedom from the restraints of the poetry he disliked and it wasn’t liked by everyone but it made people feel for once, it created a buzz both negatively and positively. Some feminists hated him, some feminists loved him, men wanted to be him and women wanted to bed him. More importantly, it inspired people to explore their own creativity. Writing was more accessible than ever.
Bukowski was never caught up in the romanticism of the poets of old like some of his peers, he just told it as it was but with an elegance and moments of absolute genius. His cynical, raw and truthful style spoke to many people, if not everyone if they took the time to sit down and read his work. Yes, he used a few choice words and phrases that you may not like but deal with it – that hip-hop track you like is probably more obscene than a Bukowski poem. The nice thing was he wasn’t just writing poetry, he was a brilliant storyteller in the form of his novels and short stories, most of them re-counting real life events and creatively weaving fiction into some of the funniest and most poignant pieces of literature I have ever read. It gives hope to those of us who work our asses off whilst trying to forge a creative career.


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