I’ve come across some Bukowski over the years, but this is the first time I actually picked up one of his collections. The sleeve description says that it contains never-before-collected poems, which I think means they were previously published but never in one of his own collections. I usually try not to start with someone’s latest book, particularly if it’s published post-mortem, but this contains work that stretches right back to the beginning of his career and is a great introduction if you haven’t read much by him.
There’s something about Bukowski’s writing that can occasionally stop you dead in your tracks. It’s very personal, and that fact is amplified by his simple and straight-forward writing. He’s able to say in a sentence what would take others pages to convey, but he can still make it as beautiful or as ugly as he wants. Some of the poems are like listening to your drunken, vulgar uncle rant late at night, and others are like listening to him moan and reflect the morning after.
Here’s Tom Waits reading Bukowski’s poem Nirvana (not a part of this collection). I actually had no idea this was Bukowski when I first heard it, but I guess this was probably my first introduction to him. You can’t ask for a much better pairing than Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski.