Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Bukowski ATC's

I'm not sure exactly when (or how) I discovered Charles Bukowski. He's the sort of famous that plenty of people would say "Never heard of him", while others would be horrified if you didn't recognise his name. He's gruff, vulgar, and honest, a vulnerable asshole.

I love his work. His poem "Bluebird" is one of my very favourite things in the whole world. It's sadness with a tinge of hope. 

Much of his work is like that, a recognition of the beauty in the overlooked.

He's also full of piss and vinegar, passion and determination.

I made this set of ATC's with some of my favourite Bukowski quotes...

... and his wonderfully life-lived face.

These have been sitting in my studio since the summer and I'm glad to have finished them. There's something extra satisfying about finishing a piece that has been sitting around for far too long.

Makes me feel sort Bukowski-ish. To say "See! I told you I wasn't done with you yet! TAKE THAT!"

And just in case you were wondering, the tray is from 7 Gypsies. The cards are made of all the things. Tape, wax, ink, paint, lace.... all shmooshed together!

Here's hoping we all walk well through 2017.


  1. There was a time, in the circles I ran in, if you were reading Bukowski it was said that you were in "that phase" and people ought to stay away from you. I understood why they felt that way but, to me, they weren't seeing the whole picture of his work/life. And then I read this poem that he wrote (and I am leaving the line breaks as he wrote them) :

    air and light and time and space

    "–you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
    something has always been in the
    but now
    I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
    place, a large studio, you should see the space and
    the light.
    for the first time in my life I’m going to have
    a place and the time to

    no baby, if you’re going to create
    you’re going to create whether you work
    16 hours a day in a coal mine
    you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
    while you’re on
    you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
    you’re going to create blind
    you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
    back while
    the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
    flood and fire.

    baby, air and light and time and space
    have nothing to do with it
    and don’t create anything
    except maybe a longer life to find
    new excuses

    Now, I read that and nothing would look the same to me again. A copy of it hung on my refrigerator for years because i recognized that I had been quite the accomplished excuse maker. . . and all those people who drifted away during my "Bukowski phase"? They were expert excuse makers too. Someday. . . when the air and time and space and light were just right., then they'd create. Maybe they did eventually. I just know that I never made excuses again after reading that poem. Truth hits hard, burns and transforms.

    THANK YOU for making these Nichola. It is wonderful to see him remembered in such a lovely way. And tI love knowing hat he is so appreciated by someone other than young, wanna-be drunken writers. : )

    1. I've had a few conversations about Bukowski that have left me perplexed, wondering how people miss that sizzle in his work. It's not all grime and whiskey. I find his attitude inspiring, pushing and truthful. Maybe it's the age of discovery that matters with him? Maybe you can tell a lot by a person by how they interpret his work?

    2. Oh I agree. I think what I found the most compelling was that his poems were like people. You are going to meet thousands of them over time and some will amuse, some will terrify, some will pass by with a shrug and some will evoke compassion or anger or even disgust. . . but then, amidst all of those, you find that shining pearl, that gem fully faceted and you can't believe looking back at them, that they're all people. . . or one person's poems. and you also realize that, without all the others, the true gems would not exist as well. :)

      The other thing I loved is that I have shared his books over the years with at least a dozen people I knew in my life who were not readers at all, and certainly not lovers of poetry as I knew them, who were instantly transformed and compelled by his writing. It was like magic to watch them light up. And I had to laugh reading thu the comments of yours because I always give the same disclaimers you have about him. : )

      And yes, age of discovery as well as the time and place of discovery. I think you have to have "been there", in that place he wrote of where "'there is a loneliness in this world so great that you can see it in the slow movement of the hands of a clock"

      And I suppose, in our time now, it helps to have known the beauty of the actual movement of the hands of a clock. lol

  2. Reading your post, and Nicolas Hall's comment, I feel shaken to my core. I've never heard of Bukowski, and yet feel like he's been screaming at me from the inside my whole adult life. Discovering him now feels liberating. Thank you.

    1. He's great... but be forewarned, there is a lot of sex, sexism, booze and baseness to some of his work.

  3. Love the ATC's, the tray AND the comments. Thank you for sharing such an interesting post!

  4. Like Holly I feel shaken. I have also never heard of Bukowski, though I do have his quote "Find what you love and let it kill you..." I just didnt know who it was by. Such wonderful words from him, you and Nicolas. Thank you. An early learning curve for 2017. I shall explore this man's writing.

    1. There's some pretty dumb stuff that goes with that wisdom too. He was brilliant, but also a bit of a dick at times. But if you can get past that, he's well worth looking into.

  5. Love. Every bit and every word. Love.

  6. Gorgeous project and a wonderful way to honor Bukowski. Either you love him or hated him. I managed a well know bookstore and he was one of the few authors we couldn't keep in stock. Thank you for this wonderful project and post and Nicolas Hall's posting of the poem. It is so true for many of us and myself included. Printed that off and hanging it in my studio. This is the year to end being an excuse maker even if since 2008 I've had valid reasons to do so. Your projects and the thoughts process you put into them are simple amazing.

  7. OMG! Never heard of this guy, but I love him. I will research him further. Love, your art tribute to him. Wow! So liberating.