Posts filed under ‘Charles Bukowski’

so you want to be a writer?

Charles Bukowski

Listen

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

From sifting through the madness for the Word, the line, the way by Charles Bukowski. Copyright © 2003 by the Estate of Charles Bukowski.

OD’ing on Bukowski right now (for there is no other way to go about it). His poetry is as visceral and hard-hitting as can be. And amazingly vicariously pleasurable (when he is at his misogynistic worst, of course).

Since I can’t find Auden’s comment on wannabe writers, which is what I had planned to include in this comment, will just add this,

From Różewicz’s Proof,

a bore bores after death
a fool keeps up his foolish chatter
from beyond the grave

And another Bukowski via minstrels,

some people never go crazy.
what truly horrible lives
they must lead.

How appropriate this poem seems in this age when everyone and his dog “writes” a book and book deals are just part of the celebrity checklist. One wishes and hopes that people would stop trying to be writers. The repeated reprimanding reminder (don’t do it.) brings back memories of high school grammar lessons and grad school references to Shrunk and White.

[blackmamba]

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May 3, 2007 at 1:13 am 2 comments

The Sickness

Charles Bukowski

Listen

if
one night
I write
what I consider to
be
5 or 6 good poems
then I begin
to worry:

suppose the house
burns down?

I’m not worried
about
the house
I’m worried
about
those 5 or 6
poems
burning
up

or

an x-girlfriend
getting in
here
while I’m away
and stealing or
destroying
the poems.

after writing
5 or 6 poems
I am fairly
drunk
and
I sit
having a few
more
drinks
while deciding
where to hide
the poems.

sometimes I
hide the poems
while
thinking about
hiding
them
and when I
decide to
hide them
I can’t find
them…

then
begins the
search

and the
whole room is
a mass of
papers
anyhow

and

I’m very clever
at
hiding poems
perhaps more
clever that I
am
at
writing
them.

so
then
I find them
have another
drink

hide them
again

forget it
then
go
to sleep…

to awaken in
late morning
to remember
the poems
and
begin the
search
again…

usually only a
ten or fifteen
minute
period of
agony

to find
them
and read
them
and then
not like them
very much

but you know
after all
that work

all that
drinking
hiding
searching
finding

I decide
it’s only
fair
to send
them
out
as a
record of
my travail

which
if accepted
will appear in
a little
magazine
circulation
between
100 and
750

a year-and
one-half
later

maybe.

it’s
worth
it.

Today (the Guardian Culture Vulture Blog informs me) is National Poetry Day. And what better way to celebrate it by posting a poem that captures perfectly the experience of writing a poem – the exhilaration, the paranoia, the disappointment, the sense of eventual futility. It’s a quirky and delightful poem, but what makes it work for me is the affirmation of those last three words – that bald statement of the unprovable yet certain knowledge that we all carry in our hearts; the belief that all this fussing around with words and metaphors and meanings is somehow worth it.

[falstaff]

October 5, 2006 at 9:31 pm Leave a comment


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