Bitter Comes Out Better On A Stolen Guitar or
The Bukowski Pissing Contest or
An Open Letter to the Small Press Part 2
I suffer from no "Bukowski Hangover". I suffer from an over active ego and delusions of grandeur. I suffer from the same disease all other small press authors suffer from. Namely, if you write outside the mainstream you're pegged as another Bukowski rip-off and your identity as an individual writer is tossed in a drawer with the other "also rans".
My brother in arms, Victor Thorn over at Babel magazine (who I have nothing but respect for), seems to think if we band together...we can use this to our advantage. I tend to agree. Working with a bunch of other arrogant, self centered assholes like myself should prove interesting. Bukowski never had a problem whoring himself to Hollywood. I am sure he won't mind if we steal his corpse and use it as our mascot. Fact, I think he would find it amusing. Stay tuned.
However this letter isn't about Victor's project. This letter is about me. More of me and less of you is a good thing. Write that down. Use it. I stole it from somewhere, but I am not sure where. I am in my arrogant mood today...take notice. I just scored 2 bottles of agave aged tequilla, and finished doing a few body shots off an 18 year old senorita from Sonora, Mexico. Take that Bukowski. I am the Frito Bandito. Comprende?
My thoughts stray. Flashback of a nun slapping my ear with a ruler because I asked what color her panties were. Back to topic. For the record my sole justification for being a writer came from Walt Whitman, who wrote:
"I am the man.
Look at offers on this website and sign up for a free iphone I was there"
When I finally decide to swallow that .45 caliber slug...put that on my tombstone. I am the man. I suffered. I was there. Those three lines sum up the influence behind modern poetry, kiddies. Poets went from viewing life in objective abstract to subjective realism. The good poets could make us feel their life and experiences pulsing through their veins like a quality cut of heroin.
The beat writers like Trocchi, Ginsberg and Kerouac took this to the extreme and left quite a mark on the literary scene. Bukowski did the same. However, us writers are now trapped in Bukoski's shadow. We are being denied our own identity. Some of us have only ourselves to blame as we seem to cater to the Bukowski shadow by accepting our label. Here is my new poem to sum up modern poetry:
Bukowski was the man.
He was there
and like a fly
I will feed
from his corpse
into small press
My point, if I have one...and that can be debated, is synthesize your reality and life experiences through your own bloodstream...not Bukowski's. Ignore heroes. Poetry has less to do with subject matter than it does with how that subject matter is presented. Just because your subject matter is Bukowski-esque does not mean your poetry has to be. That seems to be the trap we are in. A bunch of us write poems about booze and instead of our style being the focus...the subject becomes the focus. And as you are well aware, if you write about booze then you are a Bukowski rip-off. Fuck that.
This is the part where I piss everyone off, and hereby seal my fate to be labeled a poetry heretic...and thereby make myself unwanted amidst small press editors. Good fucking riddance if you people can't see past the obvious and understand what I am saying here. Hereby..thereby...where the fuck did that come from? Fuck it I am to lazy to edit this thing.
I am not a huge Bukowski fan, and the next reviewer that compares my shit to him gets strangled. Period. I will hop a Greyhound and shove a boot up their ass. Serious here kiddies...I have never had any problem spending a few nights in jail.
In my estimation, Bukowski wrote some damn cool novels. I find his poetry highly overrated. Don't get me wrong, he wrote some good shit. He became Hollywood's court jester and was pimped out like the whores he liked to hang with. Big fucking deal. His trip...not mine.
My first chapbook was published in 1991. Every fucking review mentioned Bukowski. I had never heard of him (sorry to shatter your bubble all you hip cats). Back then I was reading Alexander Trocchi and Papa Hem...and I had very little use for poetry. I was just a fuck up (and still am) caught up in the "punk" music scene and only read whatever books the chick I was banging at the time had laying around. I actually believed people like Lou Reed and bands like X had their finger on the pulse of my reality. Silly me, according to you literay fools...Bukowski did.
Anyway, these reviews prompted me to pick up a few collections of poetry by Bukowski. It was almost 10 years before I sent another damn piece of my shit to a publisher. That is an easily documented fact. I dropped off the face of the small press publishing map. If Bukowski was the yardstick poetry was to be measured by, I figured why bother with these people.
Sure, Bukowski was good. Several of his novels are classics in my estimation. But fuck, he wasn't the end all be all god you people make him out to be. In fact, he is probably laughing in his grave right now at this lame "cult of personality" you have built around him.
Sure my lifestyle and subject matter may share a tiny comparison to Bukowski...but even when I was shooting dope days at a time and sleeping in abandon warehouses, I had enough self awareness not to wallow in my own filth or buy into my own bullshit. I am so fucking sick of "literary experts" and "hip editors" lumping all writers that write of personal experiences that fall outside of "mainstream" into the Bukowski school.
My lifestyle is my lifestyle and I use writing as a grounding rod for self examination. I am sure as hell not the first to do this, and I sure as hell won't be the last. But then neither was Bukowski.
If I am a poor hack imitation of anyone it sure as hell isn't Bukowski. If your going to take pot shots at my stuff, get the facts straight. I don't mind being a hack and I don't give a fuck if any of you small press people are offended by my irreverance to your "god". I intend to speak my mind in an honest manner...deal with it or ignore me. It matters little. I am not even a blip on the "literary" radar screen. No one is standing in line ready to offer me large sums of cash for my stuff. Nor do I have some publisher princess cutting me a check every week to watch me shit my pants. I have no "fan club" or "cult following" I need to pander to. I have no role to play in the soap opera of the small press world. I don't have time for hero worship. I just write. It's what I do.
If that isn't good enough for you, go take a flying fuck at a rolling wine bottle and leave me be.