In the literary pantheon, Charles Bukowski remains a counterculture icon. A hard-drinking wild man of literature, a stubborn outsider to the poetry world, he has struck a chord with generations of readers, writing raw, tough poetry about booze, work, and women that speaks to his fans as being "real" and, like the work of the Beats, even dangerous.
Edited by his longtime publisher John Martin of Black Sparrow Press, The Continual Condition includes more of this legend's never-before-collected poems.
Sex, self-disgust, horse racing, literary fame and obscurity, delight in foul language ("dry and ridiculous bungholes"), and fleeting but genuine pleasures (from voyeurism to eating a spider crab): Bukowski's many, many remaining fans will find familiar themes in this 12th set of previously unpublished poems to appear since the Los Angeles writer died in 1994. "The god-damned editors don't know anything," he tells "the lady on the couch," and indeed he insists on the life, the meat, of the poems. Short lines dominate this particular cull of verse, with plenty of quoted conversation mixed in; as with most of his work, misanthropy rules, making the flashes of mercy-and of sexual acceptance-shine bright indeed: "I was/ sick and I/ turned to look out the/ window/ white yellow grease of/ morning/ burning my/ eyes./ Next to me in bed/ there she was." The poems may repeat themselves, but they stay true to Bukowski. Few people would want to trade places with this poet for whom "pain sits, pain floats, pain/ waits;/ pain is," but plenty will continue to cherish his unpretentious words.
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