I came across this poem by Bukowski and wanted to share with all you fellow poets out there. It’s taken from Charles Bukowski‘s The Continual Condition: Poems
A WASTED PROFESSION
all the words, you know, it’s hard to tell if you’re truly on course or
on some vanity trip: how much can be said, how much has
already been said, and why?
other writers’ words do me little good, then, why should mine be
all my words…do they create
laughter through the flame?
the same poets reading over and
over again in the same venues; I am embarrassed for them and for
do we really think that we are fashioning speech more un-
usual than a stock market or weather
all the words–we type away–on and on–most of us living lives
ordinary and without courage–are we sick to think that our
I don’t like us and I never did–is there anything worse
than a creature who lives only to write
I’m not sure how I feel about this idea, but I love the poem. I love to be a poet.
The Continual Condition Copyright@2009 by Linda Lee Bukowski. All rights reserved.
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6 thoughts on “Bukowski’s Poem About Poets”
I like it and completely agree with him. Never read this poem before today. It reminds me of one I wrote back in January with a similiar theme:
A Writer’s Fate
How many times can I write
that which has been written;
read that which I have read
seventy times seven times?
For how long can I search
for new paths to express
the same damn message
over and over again?
Exasperated, my pen falls
and black puddles my feet.
I am drowning in a pool
of unwritten words which
I must exorcise like
to burn holes in these pages
and devour flesh from my fingers
until the inkwell dries
and my bones disintegrate.
Sheila that is a great poem! And very Bukowski-ish. Isn’t it horrible, how we write and write searching for the right expression for the same damn thing!!!
Like to think of it as desperate vs horrible (smiles)
The bit about “most of us living lives ordinary and without courage” bothers me. I have to assume he means writers/poets, but how can that be his opinion of writers? Doesn’t wondering if what he says matters make him fearful to expose it to the world? Whatever we write, whether or not it’s confessional, says something about who we are, how we think, what we value. How could it not?
For me, writing will always feel courageous, because exposing myself this way makes me feel vulnerable and scared. I put it out there anyway (though I write so much more than I post!) because some fearful things are better done than avoided–or kept inside to fester. Hanging our soiled sheets in the garden may start the neighbors talking, but the sunshine will bleach the stains, and the air will freshen the sour smells.
Writers, Old Mr. Bukowski, are brave.
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