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on 23 February 2018
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on 3 June 2014
I already loved Bukowski, but now love him even more. This collection is beautiful and wrenching and filthy at times.
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on 1 September 2013
Bukowski is back with another epic collection of idiosyncratic poetry. The poems published in the collection were written between 1970 and 1990, and they were part of an archive that the great poet left behind to be published after his death.

As always, it's fascinating to see the way in which Bukowski used simple (and often profane) language in such a powerful way - his poems don't read like Shakespeare, they read like Bukowski talked, and that's what gives them their power. Bukowski wasn't a poet or a novelist - he was a storyteller, and it barely matters whether you're reading his prose or his poetry.

Take the first poem in the collection, for example - 'my father and the bum'. Bukowski had a troubled relationship with his father, who used to bully him as a child - here, we see his father's pride, and the way in which the opinions of his friends weighed heavy on him. Bukowski says: "My father believed in work. He was proud to have a job. Sometimes he didn't have a job and then he was very ashamed. He'd be so ashamed that he'd leave the house in the morning and then come back in the evening so the neighbours wouldn't know."

Of course, it's no secret that Bukowski hated his father - you would have too, the man, by all accounts, was a bastard. Just how extreme that hatred was is shown by his depiction of his father's cruelty: "My father caught the baby mice - they were still alive and he flung them in to the flaming incinerator, one by one. The flames leaped out and I wanted to throw my father in there, but my being 10 years old made that impossible."

But let's get back to the book as a whole. It was published by Black Sparrow Press, the legendary poetry firm that was formed by John Martin, ostensibly to publish Bukowski's work. According to Wikipedia (and Born in to This, a documentary about the poet), John Martin offered Bukowski $100 per month for life on the condition that he'd stop working for the post office and write full time. Bukowski agreed, and shortly afterwards started work on Post Office, his first novel which was inspired by his time with the company.
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on 14 December 2000
Poetry is always a private discovery, a secret, intimate 'wow!'. It can happen on the level of a single word, a line, an entire collection, or whole lifetime of work. I read poetry because I like surprises (if it helps you get an idea, I dabble and dip into Neruda, Thomas, both Hughes, bits of Heaney, Fenton and most of Walcott).
Discovering Bukowski (so I'm slow) has been the best surprise of my 36th year. I am delighted. I don't know how I got this far without him. I hug the book and walk round with it like a toddler with a blanket. NOT that it's a comfortable read - it gives me indigestion and keeps me awake at night, laughing and crying when I should be asleep. This book is a series of small, deft shocks. It's about drunks and tramps and whores - the ones on the street and the ones in publishing - about sinners and saints, sex and death, accidents, cars and the casualties of war in the 'ordinary café of the world'. It's even a bit about writing and how difficult it is to do - to write extraordinary things in ordinary language that hums between the covers even when not being read. Bukowski is fooling no one. He does it well. See for yourself!
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on 29 July 2005
This is an amazing book of modern narrative poetry. Full of bad language, indecent images and the grit of a fairly shabby life, this ignores the grand old traditions of form and shape and tells it like it is. It's a Father Jack of a book (girls! drink! arse!).
Of course, if you like poetry done by the rules, you'll hate this. But I prefer a more conversational approach, where the focus is on imagery and a true to life description of feelings and emotions. This particular collection covers the young and old poet, so you can see his style develop, and see how the events of his life show through in his content. It is a very fine body of work and I heartedly recommend it.
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on 5 October 2014
I love Charles Bukowski's poetry, and so was really pleased that there was this fresh influx of material. Except these poems appear to be heavily edited posthumously, so maybe what were getting isn't the real deal? I've compared the versions in this book with manuscripts found on a Bukowski website and whilst some edits are minor, others change the whole feel of the poems. And as these changes happened after Bukowskis death, I don't know, it doesn't sit well with me. I think from now on I'll stick with the collections published before his death, at least that way I'll know any edits he at least approved.
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on 14 September 2014
I hate Bubowski's literature. I read one of his books - "Punchy the punch-drunk puncher" (or whatever mediocrity it might have been), and thought it was pretty dismal.

So much of a certain type of macho, "raw life", but it wasn't really akin to anything I've ever felt. I felt extremely distanced from the book, the author, and anyone who actually likes his work.

His poetry, though, is extremely accessible. In effect, I don't even know if you could call it poetry - call it a collection of mostly one-page emotions. It doesn't rhyme, and has the same style as Cummings - the use of s p a c e, of
and so on.

But it is very readable. Not all of them were relatable to me - but enough were to make this an excellent collection of poems. Skip his nonsense novels and have a look at his poems!
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