On The Fence About Charles Bukowski

A lot of people like Charles Bukowski’s poetry. Several people I know who know about these things – writing, reading and comprehending – seem to think he’s the shit. I’ll confess up front that it’s only recently – since I’ve seen these people refer to him so much – that I’ve read any of his work. So far, I’ve found it mostly depressing, which isn’t necessarily saying I don’t like it. I haven’t decided yet. Sylvia Plath is depressing but I like her. I watched a movie about Bukowski, that I don’t remember the name of, where Matt Dillon played the poet. It was depressing. I thought “typical broken down alcoholic ass” all through the movie. Again, not sayin I don’t like him yet. I’m keeping an open mind until I can do more reading.
Anyway, I read/watch a blog called “Moving Poems” and yesterday they posted a poem by Bukowski in a video format by a Brit named Tom Ralph. It’s pretty amazing. Hearing this poem, “My Friend, The Parking Lot Attendant“, and watching the very cool stylized video has made me, well, like Bukowski. Or, at least this poem in this format. (And I’m really pissed I can’t embed this video – thanks a lot, WordPress. Grrrrr.)
Let me know what you think.
My Friend, The Parking Attendant from Tom Ralph on Vimeo.

6 thoughts on “On The Fence About Charles Bukowski

  1. Try Barfly with Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway from the 80s — a better Bukowski flick.

    But I’m not sure I like him that much either. Not sure why down-and-out — OR nearly — validates one’s muse. That you can still write after two quarts?

    I’ve read his stuff, though, and it’s good for its kind. Though I’m not sure of the kind.


    1. Actually, I’ve seen bits of Barfly and it looked pretty good. I’ll have to make a point to watch the whole movie.
      I’m with ya on not getting why down and out validates. I’m not sold on the idea one has to suffer for his art. Just sayin’.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  2. Zouxzoux,

    Barfly is indeed a better bet. The movie is interesting. I think Bukowski himself (who is in it, in a cameo) didn’t like the film and wrote a book about how Hollywood trashes things.

    But Bukowski himself is no admirable guy. There’s a documentary about him that is very good, has a lot of the ‘real’ him in it.

    He is an alcoholic. His style is sloppy.

    Despite that, after years of simple repulsion, I tried his stuff out again and found it has a genuineness to it. Not junk, drunk-writing, though that setting is his hallmark.

    Once he died — in the 90s? — of course, whoever had publishing rights went on to hype him as a ‘lost great’ or whatever. That’s the biz. And L.A. itself had a poet it could claim beyond screenwriters.

    Friends of mine there, knowing that I write poetry tried interesting me in poetry places devoted to his kind of ‘L.A. poetry’.



  3. Trulyfool,
    I went to Netflix and found 2 docus on him – I think I’ll check at least one out.

    You hit the nail on the head when you said his style is “sloppy”….that’s exactly how I perceive his work but couldn’t elucidate. Having said that, I’m still undecided and exploring.

    Thanks for commenting.


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