Charles Bukowski

Dec. 27, 1971 Letter

Hello Big John:

Here is further from the novel FACTOTUM. I feel it is picking up now and getting lively. I felt it would if I gave it a chance. Some things must begin slowly and build up their own steam. If it stays lively enough for me I will finish it. I include an excerpt I am sending out as a short story. It runs a little smoother, just a touch, which shows that minor re-writing has its value.

I am also including a poem which I don’t believe I sent you a carbon of but which is in the current issue of INVISIBLE CITY, Vangelisti’s rag.

My spirit is back up for a while. I don’t know why. But when I feel good I allow myself to.

Vangelisti who was about out on his ass at S.C. tells me he has won a Fulbright and will be teaching at univ. of Rome (?) come Sept. and that he intends to translate Bukowski to Italian. Heat up the sphagetti, pardner…

buk 1971

Sometimes I really enjoy writing…like the excerpt, SOMETHING LESS THAN ANGEL, I grinned all through it, glowing, flipping out the words, feeling damned near immortal like Dante or somebody, or anyhow, feeling fair enough, knowing it could probably be better written but I couldn’t write it better without that exact strain of work like changing a tire, and I don’t like the to change tires.

So, hang in, Old Black Sparrow and tell Mrs. Sparrow, Bukowski says good things are possible if you don’t fight the sun too much…which reminds me of some good told time titles—KNEEL TO THE RISING SUN (Caldwell), and better yet, BE ANGRY AT THE SUN (Jeffers)…how I warble on…more stuff, soon, I’m sure…Christmas blissfully over and only a mangey New Year’s to l eap over….

All right,



Author Spotlight / 1 Comment
June 12th, 2014 / 4:00 pm

being tired, being inspired

I came across this gem last night while I was not sleeping.  I’m particularly interested in Mr. Tate’s idea of “writing out of exhaustion” — that writing while tired (either physically or mentally, I guess) can result in material interestingly distinct from writing written while one is “refreshed.”  This seems to be the polar opposite of what Maggie Nelson expresses here (via here) — that periods of inactivity are somehow inherent or necessary to periods of activity.  I don’t know… I feel like I see the merits of both.  There are times when I’m particularly energized and times when I’m not, but I like to write through it all.  How bout you guys: write to exhaustion or write through exhaustion?  THOUGHTS?


Random / 18 Comments
January 24th, 2011 / 8:54 pm

Random / 25 Comments
January 6th, 2011 / 3:37 pm

2 things i’m wondering

1.      I met with a student to give advice on his MFA sample writing portfolio. Since I read these portfolios for my university and wrote one for my MFA, I felt ‘qualified,’ but with Tao Lin quotation marks. Some of the student’s poems had images and word-play. Tropes. Alliteration, at least one spondee. The first page was strong. I told him, “Good. You showed on the first page that you have read poetry and care some about words. The first page is important. Thoughts are being made.” I said, “You have images immediately. A lot of people sending in won’t have any images. They won’t get in. A lot of people like to write poetry, not poems. I mean they write about pride or love…” (trailing off. not quite sure what I meant here)

Content: The poems were about hangovers, beer, marijuana. I said, “These are sort of derivative ‘beat’ poems. That’s OK, write what you want once you’re in graduate school, but I think you should play the game a little. Get in grad school first.” I told him many readers would groan when they read poems about hangovers, beer, marijuana. “People are going to think you read some Bukowski. They’ll think you’re a type.” The phone rang 4 times and I ignored it. I said, “Do you have poems about any others things?” He did. Put some of those poems in the sample, I advised. I said again, “This isn’t a criticism of your work. Any subject is fine. Write what you want. I’m just trying to help you get into grad school.”


Behind the Scenes & Random / 86 Comments
December 14th, 2010 / 4:42 pm

Moyamensing Prison by Charles Bukowski

we shot craps in the exercise yard while the

dummies played ball with a torn-up shirt

wound into a ball

once or twice a day we had to break it up

under a tommy gun from the tower—

some blank-faced screw pointing it at

us, but,


Random / 58 Comments
December 28th, 2009 / 6:06 pm