Henry Charles Bukowski

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Heinrich Karl Bukowski,
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Čārlzs Bukovskis, Чарльз Буковски, Henry Charles Bukowski,
Poet, Scribe, Writer
 american, german
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Henry Charles Bukowski (born Heinrich Karl Bukowski; August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was a German-born American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in the LA underground newspaper Open City.

In 1986 Time called Bukowski a "laureate of American lowlife". Regarding Bukowski's enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, "the secret of Bukowski's appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet's promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero."

Family and early years

Charles Bukowski was born as Heinrich Karl Bukowski in Andernach, Germany, to Heinrich (Henry) Bukowski, a German-American in the U.S. army of occupation after World War I who remained in Germany after his army service, and Katharina (née Fett). His paternal grandfather Leonard Bukowski, an ethnic German, had immigrated to America from the German Empire in the 1880s. In Cleveland, Leonard met Emilie Krause, also a German, who had emigrated from Danzig, Germany (today Gdańsk, Poland). They married and settled in Pasadena. He worked as a successful carpenter. The couple had four children, including Heinrich (Henry), Charles Bukowski's father. Katharina Bukowski was the daughter of Wilhelm Fett and Nannette Israel.

Bukowski's parents met in Andernach in Germany following World War I. The poet's father was German-American and a sergeant in the United States Army serving in Germany following Germany's defeat in 1918. He had an affair with Katharina, a German friend's sister, and she became pregnant. Charles Bukowski repeatedly claimed to be born out of wedlock, but Andernach marital records indicate that his parents married one month before his birth. Afterwards, Henry Bukowski became a building contractor, set to make great financial gains in the aftermath of the war, and after two years moved the family to Pfaffendorf. However, given the crippling reparations being required of Germany, which led to a stagnant economy and high levels of inflation, Henry Bukowski was unable to make a living, so he decided to move the family to the United States. On April 23rd, 1923, they sailed from Bremerhaven to Baltimore, Maryland, where they settled.

The family moved to South Central Los Angeles in 1930, the city where Charles Bukowski's father and grandfather had previously worked and lived. Young Charles spoke English with a strong German accent and was taunted by his childhood playmates with the epithet "Heini", meaning German, in his early youth. In the 1930s the poet's father was often unemployed. In the autobiographical Ham on Rye Charles Bukowski says that, with his mother's acquiescence, his father was frequently abusive, both physically and mentally, beating his son for the smallest imagined offense. During his youth, Bukowski was shy and socially withdrawn, a condition exacerbated during his teen years by an extreme case of acne. Neighborhood children ridiculed his German accent and the clothing his parents made him wear. In Bukowski -- Born Into This, a 2003 film, Bukowski states that his father beat him with a razor strop three times a week from the ages of six to eleven years. He says that it helped his writing, as he came to understand undeserved pain. The depression bolstered his rage as he grew, and gave him much of his voice and material for his writings.

In his early teen years, Bukowski had an epiphany when he was introduced to alcohol by his loyal friend William "Baldy" Mullinax, depicted as "Eli LaCrosse" in Ham on Rye, son of an alcoholic surgeon. "This [alcohol] is going to help me for a very long time", he later wrote, describing the genesis of a method he could use to come to more amicable terms with his own life. After graduating from Los Angeles High School, Bukowski attended Los Angeles City College for two years, taking courses in art, journalism, and literature, before quitting at the start of World War II. He then moved to New York to begin a career as a vagrant blue-collar worker with dreams of becoming a writer.

On July 22, 1944, with World War II ongoing, Bukowski was arrested by F.B.I. agents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lived at the time, on suspicion of draft evasion. His German birth was troubling at a time when the United States was at war with Germany and many Germans and German-Americans in the United States were suspected of disloyalty. He was held for seventeen days in Philadelphia's Moyamensing Prison. Sixteen days later, he failed a psychological examination that was part of his mandatory military entrance physical test and was given a Selective Service Classification of 4-F (unfit for military service).


Bukowski died of leukemia on March 9, 1994, in San Pedro, aged 73, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp. The funeral rites, orchestrated by his widow, were conducted by Buddhist monks. He is interred at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes. An account of the proceedings can be found in Gerald Locklin's book Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet. His gravestone reads: "Don't Try", a phrase which Bukowski uses in one of his poems, advising aspiring writers and poets about inspiration and creativity. Bukowski explained the phrase in a 1963 letter to John William Corrington: "Somebody at one of these places [...] asked me: 'What do you do? How do you write, create?' You don't, I told them. You don't try. That's very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it." Bukowski was an atheist.

In popular culture

French cineaste Jean-Luc Godard praised Bukowski for his work creating the English subtitles for his 1980 film Sauve qui peut la vie.

In 1981, the Italian director Marco Ferreri made a film, Storie di ordinaria follia aka Tales of Ordinary Madness, loosely based on the short stories of Bukowski; Ben Gazzara played the role of Bukowski's character.

Barfly, released in 1987, is a semi-autobiographical film written by Bukowski and starring Mickey Rourke as Henry Chinaski, who represents Bukowski, and Faye Dunaway as his lover Wanda Wilcox. Sean Penn had offered to play the part of Chinaski for as little as a dollar as long as his friend Dennis Hopper would provide direction, but the European director Barbet Schroeder had invested many years and thousands of dollars in the project and Bukowski felt Schroeder deserved to make it. Bukowski wrote the screenplay for the film and appears as a bar patron in a brief cameo.

In 2011, the actor James Franco publicly stated that he was in the process of making a film adaptation of Bukowski's novel Ham on Rye. He wrote the script with his brother Dave, and explained that his reason for wanting to make the film is that "Ham on Rye is one of my favorite books of all time." The adaptation began shooting in Los Angeles on January 22, 2013 with Franco directing. The film is partially being shot in Oxford Square, a historic neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Major works

  • Post Office (1971), ISBN 978-0061177576
  • Factotum (1975), ISBN 978-0061131271
  • Women (1978), ISBN 978-0876853917
  • Ham on Rye (1982), ISBN 978-0876855591
  • Hollywood (1989), ISBN 978-0876857656
  • Pulp (1994), ISBN 978-0876859261
Poetry collections
  • Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail (1960)
  • It Catches My Heart in Its Hands (1963)
  • Crucifix in a Deathhand (1965)
  • At Terror Street and Agony Way (1968)
  • Poems Written Before Jumping Out of an 8 story Window (1968)
  • A Bukowski Sampler (1969)
  • The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills (1969)
  • Fire Station (1970)
  • Mockingbird Wish Me Luck (1972), ISBN 978-0876851395
  • Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame: Selected Poems 1955-1973 (1974)
  • Scarlet (1976)
  • Maybe Tomorrow (1977)
  • Love Is a Dog from Hell (1977), ISBN 978-0876853634
  • Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit (1979), ISBN 978-0876854389
  • Dangling in the Tournefortia (1981), ISBN 978-0876855263
  • War All the Time: Poems 1981-1984 (1984)
  • You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense (1986)
  • The Roominghouse Madrigals (1988), 978-0876857335
  • Septuagenarian Stew: Stories & Poems (1990)
  • People Poems (1991)
  • The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992), ISBN 978-0876858653
  • Betting on the Muse: Poems and Stories (1996), ISBN 978-1574230024
  • Bone Palace Ballet (book)|Bone Palace Ballet (1998)
  • What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire. (1999)
  • Open All Night (2000)
  • The Night Torn Mad with Footsteps (2001)
  • Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way (2003), ISBN 978-0060527358
  • The Flash of the Lightning Behind the Mountain (2004)
  • Slouching Toward Nirvana (2005)
  • Come on In! (2006)
  • The People Look Like Flowers at Last (2007)
  • The Pleasures of the Damned: Selected Poems 1951-1993 (2007), ISBN 978-0061228438
  • The Continual Condition (2009)
  • On Writing (2015)
  • On Cats (2015)
  • On Love (2016)
Short story chapbooks and collections
  • Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts (1965)
  • All the Assholes in the World and Mine (1966)
  • Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969)
  • Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions, and General Tales of Ordinary Madness (1972) ISBN 978-0-87286-061-2
  • South of No North (1973), ISBN 978-0876851906
  • Hot Water Music (1983)
  • Tales of Ordinary Madness (1983)
  • The Most Beautiful Woman in Town (1983)
  • Prying (with Jack Micheline and Catfish McDaris) (1997) ASIN: B000I92IS0
  • Portions from a Wine-stained Notebook: Short Stories and Essays (2008) ISBN 978-0-87286-492-4.
  • Absence of the Hero (2010)
  • More Notes of a Dirty Old Man (2011)
  • The Bell Tolls For No One (CityLights, 2015 edition)
Nonfiction books
  • Shakespeare Never Did This (1979); expanded (1995)
  • The Bukowski/Purdy Letters (1983)
  • Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters (1993)
  • Living on Luck: Selected Letters, vol. 2 (1995)
  • The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship (1998), ISBN 978-1574230598
  • Reach for the Sun: Selected Letters, vol. 3 (1999)
  • Beerspit Night and Cursing: The Correspondense of Charles Bukowski and Sheri Martinelli (2001)
  • Sunlight here I am: Interviews and encounters, 1963-1993 (2003)
  • On Writing Edited by Abel Debritto (2015), ISBN 978-0062417404
  • At Terror Street and Agony Way, Open reel tape, 1968
  • Poetry – Charles Bukowski, Steven Richmond, LP, 1968
  • A Cold Turkey Press Special, LP, 1972
  • Totally Corrupt, The Dial-A-Poem Poets, LP, 1976
  • 90 Minutes in Hell, LP, 1977
  • Hello. It's good to be back., LP, 1978
  • Bukowski Reads His Poetry, LP, 1980
  • Voices of the Angels, LP, 1982
  • English As A Second Language, LP, 1983
  • Neighborhood Rhythms, LP, 1984
  • Cassette Gazette, Cassette, 1985
  • Hostage, LP 1985
  • Movable Feast #3, Cassette, 1986
  • The Charles Bukowski Tapes, VHS, 1987
  • Bukowski at Bellevue, VHS, 1988
  • Beat Scene Magazine #12, Flexi-disc, 1991
  • Hostage, CD, 1994
  • King of Poets, CD, 1995
  • 70 Minutes in Hell, CD, 1997
  • At Terror Street and Agony Way, CD, 1998
  • Run with the Hunted, Cassette, 1998
  • Charles Bukowski: Uncensored, CD, 2000
  • Born Into This, DVD, 2003
  • Bukowski at Bellevue, DVD, 2004
  • Bukowski Reads His Poetry, CD, 2004
  • Bukowski Reads His Poetry, CD, 2004
  • Poems and Insults, CD, 2004
  • Solid Citizen, CD, 2004
  • 12 Great Americans, CD, 2006
  • The Charles Bukowski Tapes, DVD, 2006
  • Bukowski at Baudelaire's, mp3, 2007 (not commercially released)
  • Underwater Poetry Festival, CD, 2007
  • Hello. It's good to be back., CD, 2008
  • Poetry of Charles Bukowski, CDR, 2008
  • There's Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here, DVD, 2008
  • The Last Straw, DVD, 2008
  • One Tough Mother, Disc 1: There's Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here, DVD, 2010
  • One Tough Mother, Disc 2: The Last Straw, DVD, 2010
  • Bukowski at the San Francisco Museum of Art, Cassette, 2010
  • Bukowski at the San Francisco Museum of Art, VHS tape 2010
  • Thomas Schmitt film, 1978 Hamburg reading, mp4, 2015 (not commercially released)
Film and screenplays
  • Bukowski at Bellevue 1970 (1995)  – Poetry Reading
  • Bukowski 1973 – Californian KCET TV Documentary
  • Supervan 1977 – Feature Film (Not based on Bukowski's work but Bukowski had cameo appearance as Wet T-shirt Contest Water Boy)
  • There's Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here – Filmed: 1979; DVD Release: 2008 – Poetry Reading
  • The Last Straw – Filmed: 1980; DVD Release: 2008 – Poetry Reading
  • Tales of Ordinary Madness – Feature Film
  • Poetry in Motion 1982 – General Poetry Documentary
  • Barfly 1987 – Feature Film
  • Crazy Love 1987 – Feature Film (Belgium)
  • The Ordinary Madness of Charles Bukowski (1995), (BBC documentary).
  • Bukowski: Born Into This 2002 – Biographical Documentary
  • Factotum 2005 – Feature Film
  • The Suicide 2006 – Short film
  • One Tough Mother 2010 Released on DVD – Poetry Reading
  • Mermaid of Venice 2011 – Short film
  • "Charles Bukowski's Nirvana" 2013 – Short film
  • "Sitting on a Fire Escape Eating Eggs" 2015 – Short film

Source: wikipedia.org

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