Charles Bukowski poems and letter

Biographical and Historical Notes

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was born in Germany and immigrated to Los Angeles with his family in 1922. In 1939, Bukowski began attending Los Angeles City College, but dropped out and moved to New York to be a writer. After having little success, Bukowski gave up his dream and embarked on a ten-year, nearly fatal alcohol binge. After being hospitalized for an ulcer, Bukowski cut back on drinking and took up writing again. His first collection of poetry, Flower, Fist and Bestial Wall, was published in 1960; however, it was short stories that gained him a wide readership. Bukowski also wrote a weekly column for the Los Angeles alternative newspaper Open City and later for the Los Angeles Free Press in which he combined journalism, fiction, and philosophy in a non-traditional style. During the 1970s Bukowski began writing semi-autobiographical novels featuring the first-person narrator Henry Chinaski. Over the course of his career, Bukowski published many collections of poetry and short stories and he earned a National Endowment for the Arts Grant (1974), a Loujon Press Award, a Silver Reel Award, and the San Francisco Festival of the Arts Prize for documentary film.


"Charles Bukowski." Contemporary Authors Online (reproduced in Biography Resource Center). (accessed October 2005).

Scope and Content Note

The Charles Bukowski poems and letter contains six items which span the dates 1960-1975. Included is a printed copy of a handwritten poem "Crucifix in a Deathhand," two signed typescripts of "the silver mirror" and "46 and 9/10's," and a typescript of "upon listening to symphony music while drunk" with an ink drawing initialed by Bukowski. This small collection also includes a 1960 typescript letter to E. V. Griffith, thanking him for publishing his first book, with a prospectus for the new The Outsider, a "vigorous new, no-taboo Quarterly going to press now in oldest New Orleans with the newest in new poetry and prose."