A scraggly mongrel with a knack for picking fights with million dollar purebreds. Bukowski, despite (or because of) all his hardships left more than his share of teeth marks and flea infestations in the literary world. He’s a cultural anomaly, a (sadly no longer) living challenge to conventional divisions of high and low art, writing about classical symphonies, back alley fistfights and nights spent in drunken oblivion without separation or apology, about the philosophy of poverty and philosophical poverty, the trap of being absorbed into a group mentality, equally crippling regardless of whether the group is formed of beggars, bankers or of artists.
His poetry tells the story of a genius living outside of society, following a path of personal sincerity as he struggles to survive, find little momentary happiness’s and escapes and retain those parts of his sanity that he would prefer not to lose. He is a writer stripped of all pretence and distraction, his primary motivation for writing being the writing itself, he crafts poetry like a drowning man.
But this isn’t right, the greatest praise I can give to the man is that he’d have kicked my ass if he’d caught me writing about him this way, like one of those late night art critics with lollipop sticks up their asses. The last impression I want to give you of him is that he’s some run of the mill over-analysed fortune cookie writer who struck it lucky. Bukowski’s really something very special;
No one other man ever lain down in the gutter,
Has seen so far out into the stars
No shattered nose Picasso ever broke so many rules,
Nor so much evolved an art
And times will change, but we’ll retain
The wisdom a poet imparts:
That though a man might miss a meal
His spirit need never be starved.