Charles Bukowski

German-American Poet and Writer

About Charles Bukowski

Charles was born August 16, 1920 in Andernach, Germany to an American Solider and German Mother. He came to the United States at the age of three with his family. From there he lived in Los Angeles and lived there until leaving Los Angeles City College. He then moved to New York to become a writer. Due to a lack of publishing success in 1946 caused him to give up writer and he became an alcoholic. After becoming sick from too much drinking he picked up writing again. He published his first story when he was twenty four. He didn't start writing poetry until the age of thirty five. He went on and after some hard work he published his first poetry book in 1959.He is famous for his writing which often features a depraved metropolitan environment, violence, sexual imagery, direct language, an autobiographical character by the name of Henry Chinaski, and his downtrodden members of society. Charles passed away of leukemia on March 9th, 1994 in San Pedro.

Bukowski's Poetry: Four examples

"This Kind Of Fire"

This poem is about how if he didn't have grief he would have nothing to write about. In the poem Bukowski is talking about how his life is rough and how if it wasn't so hard he wouldn't have anything to write about. He also wonders why he feel so grieved. Something else he does is make fun of other poets and their "grief." He says, "They must be terribly bored with all the others... I am too." He is referring to the fact that the gods are tired of other poets thinking they have talent, but pretend to have a hard time. With this poem Bukowski emphasizes that he has talent and that he is filled with grief because it gives him things to write about.

"1990 Special"

The poem "1990 Special" talks about death approaching him as he gets older. He talks about how he is approaching death and wonders when it will take him. This poem is a somewhat dark poem talking about his death and demise and how it is approaching and he can't stop it. In the poem he says, "Year-worn weary to the bone." This shows that he is tired and old. He also says, "Is that death stalking me now?" This statement in the poem emphasizes that he is dying and waiting for death to come and take him.

"The Suicide Kid"

In this poem Bukowski talks about killing himself. In the poem he claims that he goes to the bar everyday hoping to have someone kill him. The people in the bar end up liking him and giving him free drinks. He didn't think it was fair since there was someone in the hospital in a terrible condition fighting for his life while he fights to die. "Death doesn't always come running when you call," in this verse he means that he you can't call death. You have a time when you are supposed to die.

"So you want to be a writer?"

Bukowski talks about the challenges of being a writer in this poem. He is saying that if you can't think of what to say don't be a writer. He is saying in the poem that if you have any hesitation or any doubts about what you are writing then don't be a poet. "If it doesn't come bursting out of you, in spite of everything, don't do it." This line shows to prove that being a writer can be difficult and if you can't do it naturally then don't do it. Being a writer to Charles Bukowski mean letting it come naturally and not holding back. He shows this in his poem when he says, "when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you." In that verse he makes it clear that if you are ready to be a writer it will come naturally, and you will keep going until you can't think of anything else to write about or your time is passed.