Charles Bukowski-a gateway drug back to poetry

I came across Charles Bukowski for the first time on YouTube, I think.

Short videos, most less than two minutes long, with haunting music behind a narration of one of his poems.

Bukowski came to the United States from Germany with his family when he was a child. He had a rough childhood with a rough, hard drinking father.

Bukowski himself was fond of a drink and may have been an alcoholic. His autobiographical novel, “Ham on Rye”, describes his childhood and his upbringing and is well worth a read.

His poetry, however, may bring you back to poetry, if you found yourself brutalised by being force fed poetry for the Leaving Certificate or whatever State exam you did where you come from.

I really like the last days of the suicide kid, Go all the way, So, you want to be a writer, Reinvent your life because you must,

These poems remind me of the writing of Ernest Hemingway, and Hemingway’s use of short, easy to understand words in “The Old Man and the Sea” and other work.

If poetry is to be accessible and attractive to the ordinary man and woman Bukowski’s poetry is a good place to look for a start.

He has been called “a laureate of American low life” by Time magazine. It’s an apt description.


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