Saturday, January 8, 2011

Charles Bukowski, Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame: Selected Poems 1955-1973

I'm sure I've written before that I get these "moments" when what I want to read is a little Bukowski. To be honest, it's not just any Bukowski, but that full-throated, whoring, drinking, loud-mouthed, unapologetic sonofabitch classical music aficionado that Bukowski fans... love? Much like the women he writes about love him. Right?


I suppose.

Such was the case recently. And so I indulged (but using coupons and gift cards). What's so interesting about Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame is that the bastard voice I was reading for doesn't really make an appearance until very late in the second section (though he stays around for most of the third).

It's interesting (though not particularly enjoyable to me) because that first section is made up of selections from -- if I'm doing the math right -- when he first started writing poetry (in his 30s). And it shows. They are poems of the very much "poetically"-aware (and... "fumbling" isn't quite the right word, but in all craft we struggle as we develop, and it often shows in what we offer as our work).

They aren't bad, they're just... young (even though Bukowski wasn't particularly at the time).

But with this realization in hand, it becomes something of an education for the reader to see and hear the poetry morph. Of course, as Bukowski notes in his own introduction to the collection, there's a rather yawning and noteworthy gap in collection (1969-1972), though it is noteworthy perhaps more in retrospect: these years seem to be the ones where Bukowski found that oh so distinctive voice of his. But that's okay, because here we've got the luck that found him (and made him one of the "good" poets) and some "warm asses".

No comments: