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3:AM Cult Hero: Charles Bukowski

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“To do a dull thing with style – now that’s what I call art.”

Ben Pleasants on Bukowski & the politics of literature:

Charles Bukowski loved the idea of poetry wars. Even at the lowest level of mimeo magazines, when he was co-editing Laugh Literary & Man the Humping Guns with Neeli Cherry, he jumped in guns blazing ready to take on the world. “Poetry,” he always said, “is a poor country without any boundaries. It’s open to all kinds of fools. All the poet has is his shitty little poem and his point of view. It’s like being on a bar stool, but with a piece of paper in your hand instead of a drink. You shout and scream and you hope someone will notice you.”

He thought poets were the spoiled children of literature: they had to do very little work to get published. They could write whatever they felt. Poetry was about feeling. It was not the complex work of a novelist or a journalist or a historian.

“Poets dazzle,” he said, “but often their best stuff is written in bitchy essays about what art is! When people call me a poet, it makes me want to vomit. I’m a writer!”

Further: Three Bukowski poems on 3:AM / An American Hangover, Darran Anderson on Bukowski’s legacy / Bukowski.net / Matt Dillon as Chinaski / Ebert on the set of Barfly / Bukowski at Beat Scene / Tom Waits reads ‘The Laughing Heart’ / Buwkowski on Poetry in Motion.

First posted: Wednesday, March 10th, 2010.

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