Happiness is the Poet Laureate of the Gutter
Tonight I feature my favorite poet the quotes are his as well. I first discovered him through his books and stories, Ham on Rye, Post Office and sprinkled through the books there were poems that I found interesting. I did not know he was actually far more well-known as a poet. I myself had been writing poetry for a couple of years at that point and had literally told no one. Not a single person had ever seen or read one of my poems. In addition to all of the normal fears that any writer has about their work I had an additional anxiety about my poetry. You see my only real experience with poetry growing up was from the poetry we read in school. I liked some of it, Shakespeare, William Carlos Williams but in general the classic poetry we were fed didn’t resonate with me at all, and all of the poetry we were fed had some common characteristics. The language was flowery, lots of twenty-five cent vocabulary words, there were certain structures that had to be followed, generally things had to rhyme. It all seemed like writing meant to point out to you that if you weren’t highly educated and well-spoken that poetry couldn’t be created by you, and should be read as a world you aspire to but can never have. It was a false opinion but I had limited exposure.
In contrast, what I wrote was not flowery, it was direct, dark, I swore it looked and felt nothing like the poetry I had read before. Then, I was introduced through his books to the poetry of the Poet Laureate of the Gutter, Charles Bukowski. He didn’t write flowery positive pieces about beauty and love, he wrote about how hard life was, being drunk, feeling inadequate and alienated. He was distinctly middle class, his subjects included other drunks, hookers, and bums. He bared his life and his soul and made no excuses for it not being pretty and it wasn’t.
But there is a difference between pretty and beautiful and although Bukowski’s soul was pretty, it was absolutely, horridly beautiful and it connected with me. He pointed to the same absurdities in life I see every day. He felt like an alien on earth and I identify with that feeling completely. Seeing his work, seeing people react positively to it gave me the courage to share my work. This is why I have said on many occasions that Charles Bukowski gave me permission to write poetry and I thank him for it. My writing has become an outlet that has made me a saner and happier person.
So here are a few pieces by Bukowski for your enjoyment. I’ll share links for more of his stuff and other poets below, you see knowing about Bukowski opened a door for me into a whole world of poetry I never knew existed. Through that door I’ve found folks like Peter MacWilliams, Sapphire, Warsan Shire, Doug Draime, and most recently Ashe Vernon. Their writings are raw, brutally in your face, unapologetic for their hard views and in doing so they make you have to deal with the realities of the world. In my literature I like escapism, in my poetry, harsh reality. Enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane
Other Pieces You Might Enjoy!