Henry Charles Bukowski, born Heinrich Karl Bukowski (1920-1994), was one of those unique people destined to go down in history. His prolific work in novels, short stories and poetry has cemented his place as one of the most influential and significant American writers of the 20th century.
I first encountered Bukowski listed as an inspiration on the website of my favourite band, and soon became immersed in the writer’s world. His semi-autobiographical poetry and short stories are filled with ruthless insights into alcoholism, a failing society, abusive relationships and a cynical indifference to life’s troubles. But they are also pumped with such a characteristic veracity that Bukowski’s words bring not only interest and captivation to the reader, but also a great empathy.
He was the beloved outsider hero and the voice for the lost souls of the modern world.
Much of his work is based on his own experiences in Los Angeles, where he spent his life, and it is the personal attachment he had to his own work that makes it beautiful to read. When I read Bukowski, it is not just his poetry I am reading, but it is as if I am in Los Angeles, hearing his thoughts as he lights a cigarette, or standing in front of his mirror shaving.
“Don’t Try”, the words written on Bukowski grave, mark him out as a true writer – waiting for inspiration and relying on one’s own life and mind to provide all that is needed for pleasure and creativity. He was the beloved outsider hero of the average American and the voice for the lost souls of the modern world.
Image courtesy of Charles Bukowski