Sunday, December 27, 2009

Poem of the Week: "The Beats," by Charles Bukowski

As many of you already know, I really don't like the Beat generation writers. I find them self-indulgent, annoying, and a bit misogynist. Also, they haven't aged well with time. So when I was reading the last section of Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise, I couldn't help but compare the strange avant-garde composers of the 1950s and 60s with the Ginsbergs and Kerouacs of the same time period. Although Ross obviously has enormous respect for these composers (Cage, Reich, etc.), just the descriptions of their lives annoyed me. I realize that's more my fault than theirs; I've just never been a big fan of the avant-garde or music that's more mechanized than emotional. But anyway, all this put me in the mind of Charles Bukowski's poem "The Beats." Bukowski is not a poet I'm particularly fond of, but every once in a while one of his poems really makes me pause to think. This is one of them.

The Beats, by Charles Bukowski

some keep trying to connect me with
the beats
but I was vastly unpublished in the
I very much
disliked their vanity and
all that

and when I met most of them
later in my life
I still felt that most of my
feelings toward
were the

some accepted
that; others thought that I
should change my

my viewpoint remained the
same: writing is done
one person
at a time
one place
at a time

and all the gatherings
and tenderings of
proclamations toward the
had very little
to do
with anything.

any one of those
could have made it as a
shoe salesman or a
used car

and they still
instead of bitching about
the change of the fates and
the ways


from the sad university
these hucksters of the
despoiled word
working the
still talking that
dumb shit.

No comments:

Post a Comment