Charles Bukowski

1920-1994

'Don't Try'

 

Charles Bukowski is buried in the Green Hills Memorial Park, Rancho Palos Verdes, Los Angeles County, California, USA.

Gravestone of Charles Bukowski
 

Bukowski was born in Andernach Germany but moved to the US with his parents when he was two years old.

During his adolescence he suffered from terrible acne and boils which exacerbated his sense of being an outsider. He was also regularly beaten by his father. These experiences were dealt with in his autobiographical novel Ham on Rye (1982).

In his twenties he started to publish short stories such as 20 Tanks from Kasseldon. However, he soon became disillusioned with writing and abandoned it for the next ten years. During this period he descended into severe alcoholism which, eventually, culminated in a stomach ulcer that nearly cost him his life. After being discharged from Los Angeles hospital, at the age of 35, he began to write poetry. His work was published extensively in poetry magazines and by small presses.

Charles Bukowski

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 about 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.

we have everything and we have nothing
and some men do it in churches
and some men do it by tearing butterflies
in half
and some men do it in Palm Springs
laying it into butterblondes
with Cadillac souls

from something for the touts, the nuns, the grocery clerks and you....

Click here to buy poetry by Charles Bukowski

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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