The Pleasures of the Damned: Poems, 1951-1993

The Pleasures of the Damned: Poems, 1951-1993

by Charles Bukowski
     
 

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To his legions of fans, Charles Bukowski was—and remains—the quintessential counterculture icon. A hard-drinking wild man of literature and a stubborn outsider to the poetry world, he wrote unflinchingly about booze, work, and women, in raw, street-tough poems whose truth has struck a chord with generations of readers.

Edited by John Martin, the

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Overview

To his legions of fans, Charles Bukowski was—and remains—the quintessential counterculture icon. A hard-drinking wild man of literature and a stubborn outsider to the poetry world, he wrote unflinchingly about booze, work, and women, in raw, street-tough poems whose truth has struck a chord with generations of readers.

Edited by John Martin, the legendary publisher of Black Sparrow Press and a close friend of Bukowski's, The Pleasures of the Damned is a selection of the best works from Bukowski's long poetic career, including the last of his never-before-collected poems. Celebrating the full range of the poet's extra-ordinary and surprising sensibility, and his uncompromising linguistic brilliance, these poems cover a rich lifetime of experiences and speak to Bukowski's "immense intelligence, the caring heart that saw through the sham of our pretenses and had pity on our human condition" (The New York Quarterly). The Pleasures of the Damned is an astonishing poetic treasure trove, essential reading for both longtime fans and those just discovering this unique and legendary American voice.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
“This long and well-edited collection is likely to stand as the definitive volume of Bukowski’s poems.”
Jim Harrison
The Pleasures of the Damned is an appropriately long collection because it is likely to stand as the definitive volume of Bukowski's poems. It is well edited by John Martin, the publisher of the estimable Black Sparrow Press, who was Bukowski's editor for most of his working life…I am not inclined to make elaborate claims for Bukowski, because there is no one to compare him to, plus or minus. He wrote in the language of his class as surely as Wallace Stevens wrote in the language of his own. This book offers you a fair chance to make up your own mind on this quarrelsome monster. It is ironical that those who man the gates of the canon will rarely if ever make it inside themselves. Bukowski came in a secret back door.
—The New York Times
Bill Press
In a very real sense…The Pleasures of the Damned is as much about John Martin as it is about Charles Bukowski. It's an insightful walk through the work of a poet by the man who knew him best, and it reveals Bukowski in the many, often conflicting dimensions that make him such a popular, accessible, and, yes, great artist…This extraordinary collection establishes Bukowski as much more than just another West Coast Beat poet. At last, maybe fans like me won't have to apologize for ranking him among the best.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Bukowski's chatty free verse (and fiction) about disappointment, drunkenness, racetracks, flophouses, lust, sexual failure, poverty and late-life success amassed an enormous following by the time of his death at age 73 in 1994. Billed as the last book with new Bukowski poems in it, this hefty collection also culls from his prior books, and it is all of a piece: the warnings about lost potency, the ironic takes on ailments of mind and body, the comradeship with everyone down at the heels, down on his luck, or down to his last shot of booze. Bukowski's best poems have an exaggerated, B-movie black-and-white aura about them. One new poem warns "that/ nothing is wasted:/ either that/ or/ it all is." In another, "hell is only what we/ create,/ smoking these cigarettes,/ waiting here,/ wondering here." Near the front of the volume comes a page-and-a-half-long verse manifesto, "a poem is a city," that might describe what Bukowski could do: "a poem is a city filled with streets and sewers," it begins, "filled with saints, heroes, beggars, madmen... banality and booze," and yet "a poem is the world." (Nov.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061228438
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/30/2007
Pages:
576
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.69(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Pleasures of the Damned
Poems, 1951-1993

the mockingbird

the mockingbird had been following the cat
all summer
mocking mocking mocking
teasing and cocksure;
the cat crawled under rockers on porches
tail flashing
and said something angry to the mockingbird
which I didn't understand.

yesterday the cat walked calmly up the driveway
with the mockingbird alive in its mouth,
wings fanned, beautiful wings fanned and flopping,
feathers parted like a woman's legs,
and the bird was no longer mocking,
it was asking, it was praying
but the cat
striding down through centuries
would not listen.

I saw it crawl under a yellow car
with the bird
to bargain it to another place.

summer was over.

The Pleasures of the Damned
Poems, 1951-1993
. Copyright © by Charles Bukowski. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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