Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)
Charles Bukowski, born in 1920, began writing at a young age and was first
published in the 1940s. Then Bukowksi gave up writing for the world of work and
bars, not publishing, not writing, so the myth goes, for nearly twenty years.
Ten of those years were spent roaming from odd job to odd roominghouse from the
East coast to the West. The other ten years, Bukowski worked for the United
States Postal Service in Los Angeles, a job that took no effort except for the
strength to show up and the patience to perform mindless operations. During that
time, his life bordered on insanity and death, two prevalent themes in his
writing. According to his own myth making, Bukowski returned to writing the day
that he quit the Postal Service, but his bibliography shows that indeed, he had
been publishing several years before that.
Bukowksi's first generally recognized publication date is in the 1960s, yet
citations from the early 60s exist in Sanford Dorbin's early bibliography, and
The Roominghouse Madrigals prints poems from the late 40s.
The fact is that Bukowski has published extensively in various small literary
publications for over thirty years. These publications exist in small numbers
and are difficult if not impossible to find. Fortunately, John Martin of Black
Sparrow Press has managed to cull together these poems and stories over several
collections, until catching up with his contemporary writings in the 80s.
In total, there are over forty books in print written by Bukowski. Since his
death on March 9, 1994, a growing number of books deal with Bukowski as a
critical source and literary legend.
Although Bukowski was never truly associated with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg,
or other major Beat writers, his informal style and non-conforming literary
approach has endeared him to readers of the Beat genre.