His free verse was inspired by the back
street life of Los Angeles with which he was so familiar: its
bars, race tracks and low-rent accommodation. However, the
down-at-heel reality is relieved by a bleak
sense of humour.
Through out his life Bukowski held many manual positions
including: warehouseman, truck driver, elevator operator and
dishwasher. His longest held job was that of postal clerk for the
LA post office where he worked for 11 years. However, in 1969, after being
promised a $100 stipend from Black Sparrow Press, he abandoned the
day job and struck out as a full time writer. He famously declared
at the time: "I have one of two choices - stay in the post office
and go crazy....or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I
decided to starve."
His life - fictionalised as alter ego Henry Chinaski - became the
subject of the 1987 film Barfly starring Mickey Rourke. More
recently Bukowski: Born Into This (2004) - a documentary
his life has appeared to great acclaim.
Bukowski was a prolific writer publishing dozens of collections
of poetry and six novels. His work has, arguably, not received the
critical attention that it deserves.
He died of leukaemia on March 9th 1994 and his funeral rites were
conducted by Buddhist monks.