Gisteren liep ik het bedrijfsrestaurant in. Ik had mijn telefoon, mijn sodexco-kaart en On writing van Charles Bukowski bij me, een boek met brieven of brieffragmenten die over het schrijven als ambacht gaan. De Indiase man achter de toonbank vroeg: Did you finish the other book by mister Bukowski? Heel even wist ik niet wat ik moest zeggen. Het komt niet vaak voor, op het werk, dat iemand begint over de boeken die je bij je hebt. Blijkbaar had de man gemerkt dat ik de vorige dagen met Post Office rondliep. Ik vroeg hem of hij Bukowski kende. No sir, I am here for a few months only but I intend to get to know as much of your writers as possible; I heard that Bukowski is rather controversial? Ik knikte en antwoordde: He used to be. Daarna overhandigde de man me mijn vegetarische curry met bloemkool, aardappel, aubergine en paprika en basmatirijst. Erg lekker. Wie ooit bij ons komt werken moet die zeker proberen. Twee fragmenten uit On writing:
[…] I should think that many of our poets, the honest ones, will confess to having no manifesto. It is a painful confession but the art of poetry carries its own powers without having to break them down into critical listings. I do not mean that poetry should be raffish and irresponsible clown tossing off words into the void. But the very feeling of a good poem carries its own reason for being. I am aware of the New Criticism and the Newer Criticism and the Blue Guitar school of thought, the English school forwarded by Paris Leary, the strong image school of Epos and Flame etc. etc., but all these are demands on style and manner and method rather than on content, altough we have some restrictions here also. But primarily Art is its own excuse, and it’s either Art or it’s something else. It’s either a poem or a piece of cheese.
Biog.? I am insane and old an driveling, smoke like he forests of hell, but feel better all the time, that is–worse and better. And when I sit down to the typer it is like carving tits on a cow–a great big thing. Then too, I realize I gotta run in the Latin, and the poise, and the snob and the Pound and Shake[speare], and I hello hello hell–anything that makes the thing run, hurrah! But I am thin as a fake, so I often write a bad poem written mostly by myself rather than a good poem written mostly by somebody else. Though, of course, I cannot swear by this. Examination and re-examination. Why try? Those who sit constantly in symphony halls adore creation but cannot create. I go to the racetrack where they also have bars. All hail the mad gods who have created these fine spinning things.