As three of our team settle into life in Bristol, a City famous for its vibrant creative scene and poets of all shapes and styles - Massive Attack and Damien Hirst both hail from Bristol, both purveyors of contemporary poetry in their own way. Not to mention the 18th century poet and provocateur Hannah Moore, who was well known for her radical writing in a scene dominated by men. So it seemed poignant to share our collaborator Dave Green’s thoughts on Bukowski - poetry’s original bad boy and a big influence on how we think and work. Follow our social media to hear about our upcoming plans for spoken word and other endeavours in our new home - Tom (Editor, Pint For A Piece)
The following is a Bukowski aperitif. A cocktail mixed with Gaylord Brewer’s thoughts from his book ‘Charles Bukowski’, and Bukowski’s poems from Canongate’s collection ‘Charles Bukowski: The Pleasures of the Damned. Poems, 1951-1993’. Five hundred words isn’t enough for a hearty meal into the life and mind of this creative and deranged ‘laureate of American low life’ (Time). Hopefully, the following poems and comments will make you crave more of his work.
I had lost the last race big
somebody had stolen my coat
I could feel the flu coming on
and my tires were
low. I went in to get a
beer at the German bar
but the waitress was having a fit
her heart strangled by disappointment
grief and loss.
women get troubled all at once,
you know. I left a tip
and got out.
Somewhere on the web, I read that Bukowski was a master of finishing poems on a punchy line encapsulating the feeling of the piece. Ask Caesar. Wealthiest, most powerful of men got stabbed in the back by an old friend. Bukowski: grizzled poet having a hard day of it. He’s not the only one. Bukowski captures all this in as fewer words as possible. Gaylord Brewer comments that Bukowski strove for simplicity, directness and rejection of metaphor. The language he uses in these shorter works reflects the sharpness of his poetry.
there are worse things than
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it’s too late
and there’s nothing worse
Bukowski is, like custard doughnuts or eating cucumber with hummus, divisive. There are those who adore his gritty poetry reflecting the underbelly of society with the coarse beats of his words emulating the pains of the forgotten. There are also those who view him as too callous, too absurd, who write him off as being exactly the character he has made for himself: a grizzled, poor man with holes in his pockets and no finesse. According to Gaylord Brewer, both views reflect a short-sighted reading of Bukowski and his poetry. This, in itself, hints at the depth and width of Bukowski’s work.
I live alone in a small room
and read the newspapers
and sleep alone in the dark
dreaming of crowds.
There will only ever be one Bukowski. He had the raw heart of those who knew the difficulties of squalor and life. Skid Row, a place Bukowski often wrote about, is a district in LA measuring 11.2km2 and is home to 17,740 people living in varying degrees of destitution. A lot of Bukowski’s motifs tend to be entwined with such a location. That was his experience. Taking Bukowski’s style and my experience (working alongside asylum seekers and refugees), I’ve written the following in homage to Bukowski’s work.
My Sudanese friend and I
at the edge of the icy rink
Laugh as others slip and slide,
laugh as others conquer the ice.
We laugh in the same place,
we laugh in the same world,
Dave Green is a poet, writer and children’s worker currently based in Loughborough. You may have spotted him at last year’s Langaland Festival, and you can see more of his work at www.facebook.com/abyadpoet
We pay each author £5 for 500 words (roughly) on something creative - your favourite single, an exhibition you've been to, a new project or anything else you can think of! Feel free to include images. Send your PINT PIECE to email@example.com and we'll choose one per month.