The People Look Like Flowers at Last

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The People Look Like Flowers at LastThe People Look Like Flowers at Last by Charles Bukowski
Published: 2007
Length: 320 pages

This is one of Bukowski’s posthumously published poetry collections, and I always feel odd reading something that an author wasn’t alive to see published. Where were these found? Why were they previously unpublished, and what if he didn’t want these released? He mentions in a couple of his poems that he wrote multiple a night and then tossed the ones that didn’t work. Are some of these those failures? Were any editorial changes made? I’d even hate the idea of someone publishing a silly blog post without my consent, and this is a book of poetry from one of America’s most famous poets of the 20th century.

Note to friends and family: do not post my weblog drafts if I perish unexpectedly. Even if the public demands it.

I only bring this up because some of the poetry in this collection felt uninspired. There were some gems, poems that I immediately re-read after finishing, but the hysterical moments and sparks of brilliant authenticity that he’s known for felt far and few between here. When I love his poems, though, I really love them. He writes so simply, and often on the same few themes over and over, but he’ll hit on some everyday truth that will just stop you dead in your tracks. He really utilizes the ‘it’s funny/sad because it’s true’ approach.

I consider Bukowski one of my favourite alcoholics. He seemed to live that romantic drunk writer’s life. Constantly drinking hard, yet still driven to express himself creatively. Short, intense relationships that leave long-lasting scars. Depression that doesn’t cripple, but instead fuels the writing and provides deep insights into the human condition and ample opportunity for moody, pensive looks. It’s the sort of life that doesn’t exist outside of fiction. There’s nothing glamourous about addiction and mental illness, and I’m sure his life was much more complicated than I know, but that’s the impression one gets when reading his poetry.

I’ve only read two of Bukowski’s poetry collections, so I’m looking forward to reading more in the years to come. I think I’ll try one of his novels next.

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