Happy Imaginings: Charles Bukowski
Find what you love and let it kill you. ~ Charles Bukowski
This is Fake News
There is a book I’ve always wanted to write called 20 famous people worth having a beer with. Essentially, I want to interview famous people who actually seem down to earth, people who for as famous as they are, seem like they’d still be regular enough people that you’d want to have a drink with them. Since it is unlikely that I’ll get that opportunity anytime soon, I’ve decided to make up the interviews. We all have so many imaginary conversations in our heads, I’ve just decided to have some of mine in the ether and share them with you. This is meant to be a bit of fun, I hope it’s taken that way and hey, if any of the people I’m writing about, the living ones anyway, want to correct the record with an actual interview, I’m all in. ~ Rev Kane
My favorite poet, the first poet I ever really found worth reading is Charles Bukowski. I first encountered him through this novels. I loved them, and I didn’t know he was actually far more famous as a poet. In a bookstore looking for another book I stumbled upon his poetry, it was nothing short of a revelation. In high school I had a fantastic English teacher, he introduced me to levels and types of art and culture I doubt I would have otherwise ever encountered. As for poetry, although I did enjoy folks like William Carlos Williams, I found most poetry with it’s rigid rules, fancy language and lofty subject matter to be a huge turn off. Even more so after high school as I had started writing, what I wrote felt like poetry to me but didn’t conform to anything that I’d ever read. That was until I read my first Bukowski poem. Here was a poet, not conforming to rules, using plain language and writing about pain, drunks, whores and violence. I have often said that Charles Bukowski gave me permission to be a writer.
Of course I was just ignorant, there is lots of poetry out there that doesn’t conform, one of the best books I’ve ever read is the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. It’s full of amazing writers who don’t confrom like Doug Draime and Sapphire. As I delved deeper into poetry I’ve found lots of writers I really love, perhaps the most amazing being Warsan Shire, who suddenly got well known when Beyonce used her words in a video. For me though Bukowski is the grandfather of them all, a drunken, angry, genius of a grandfather.
Welcome to Happy Imaginings Charles Bukowski!
Me: Welcome Mr. Bukowski
Buk: Jesus Christ, you’re not one them are you? I mean seriously I don’t have any fucking time for some formal little asshole asking me polite questions. And wasn’t there supposed to be a bottle here, I’m pretty sure the agreement said there would be a bottle.
Me: Yes, here you go you mean old bastard.
Buk: <takes a drink, smiles> That’s better you bald fuck, let’s get to it.
Me: I realize that every reader brings their own ideas to the work, but for you, what is the essence of Charles Bukowski’s poetry?
Buk: Why the fuck are you using my full name <shaking his head, takes a drink> Look you claim to be a writer, if you are you know. There is no definable essence, the work is just necessary, the same way breathing is necessary, the way food, fucking and booze are necessary, I have to write. There is no essence other than survival.
Me: One of my favorite lines of yours is, find what you love and let it kill you, what the hell does that mean?
Buk: You said it already, it will mean something different to every reader, but for me the reality is that life is a fucking nightmare. You’re surrounded by idiots constantly, the government keeps you down, your boss keeps you down, the system won’t let you get back up. The only option you have is to find some piece of happy, something you love and give everything to it, and I mean absolutely everything until you have nothing left and you die. That’s a good death, even if you can’t have a good life.
Me: What advice would you give a young writer just starting out?
Buk: Don’t, just don’t, this business sucks, you can’t live being a writer, not as a career. But if you have to, not if you want to, not if you think it’s a good idea, but if you have to then you’re a writer and you’ll write whether someone tells you to or not. So write, but fuck the business of writing.
Me: If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Buk: I would have gotten famous earlier so that I would have been younger when the groupies started showing up. I mean I had some fun, but man I would have had so much more if I’d been younger.
Me: So one last thing, would you be willing to take a look at some of my poetry.
Buk: Not a fucking chance, you’re too old.
Me: Thanks for the time.