Charles Bukowski Reads His Poetry (Live)
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- Released: October 12, 2004
- Originally Released: 2004
- Label: Takoma
- 2.Creation of the Morning Line
- 4.The Sex Fiends
- 5."Love, " He Said
- 6.Piss and Shit
- 7.The Death of an Idiot
- 9.The World's Greatest Loser
- 10.Last Days of the Suicide Kid
- 11.The Shoelace
- 14.The Rat
- 15.The Best Love Poem
Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.
Liner Note Author: Richard Meltzer.
Recording information: Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center, San Francisco, CA (09/14/1972).
There's a major strike against this recording of a September 14, 1972, reading in San Francisco that has nothing to do with the performance or the contents of the readings: the fidelity is poor, sounding as if it was made on a cheap portable tape player from the audience. That makes this more of archival historical value than something that might endure as a document of Charles Bukowski at his best in a live setting. Setting the sound quality aside, the author is reasonably effective in this 40-minute set, which is not so much poems -- or what many average listeners might conceive of as poetry, at any rate -- as vignettes and observations. In keeping with the tone of much of Bukowski's work, these tend toward laconic portraits of life's dark side that avoid moralizing. They're laced with references to explicit sexual practices, abuse, poverty, and bodily excretions that still retain their capacity to shock, and won't be well received by the easily offended. Still, they have their value as unflinching reflections of harsh experience, occasionally lightened by some morbid humor. Sometimes individual lines of the pieces are striking, as when he notes "it's darker than hell, and twice as expensive" in "The Shoelace." And sometimes, the wit, sex, bodily excretions, and zest for pushing the limits of acceptable taste all come together, particularly in the concluding ode to anal sex, "The Best Love Poem." Bukowski also lives up to some aspects of his legend with some self-deprecating unflattering comments about his own character, occasionally burping into the mike as if to remind us (as if any reminder was necessary) that he was an uncouth drinker without conventional respect for social etiquette. ~ Richie Unterberger
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