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Blog: Charles Bukowski Woodcut

Loren Kantor, local woodcut artist, carves original woodcut prints of his favorite cultural figures. (woodcuttingfool.blogspot.com)

"I don't hate people...I just feel better when they're not around."--Charles Bukowski.

When I was a college student, I had the habit of checking my friends bookcases to see what they were reading. I'd see books by Milan Kundera, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Herman Hesse. Looking on a lower shelf, tucked away in a corner perhaps, I'd often see multiple well-worn titles by Charles Bukowski. The message was clear: high-brow reading was necessary but Bukowski was pure fun.

Charles Bukowski was a poet of the profane. A student of the gritty streets, he wrote about the shadow side of America. Prostitutes, dingy bars, human cruelty, lonely trysts. He was a brutal drunk, a misogynist, a self-admitted louse. But he was also a prolific writer and at times a sensitive poet with a twisted sense of humor.

Born in Germany in 1920, he grew up in Los Angeles son to an abusive, alcoholic father. Bukowski began writing (and drinking) in his teens. He struggled for decades, toiling as an on-again/off-again postal worker until 1969 when he published his first novel "Post Office" at age 49. He went on to publish more than 60 books in his life.

Hollywood has made multiple movies about Bukowski ("Barfly," "Factotum," "Tales of Ordinary Madness") and his writing remains as popular as ever. Bukowski died of leukemia in 1994 and his funeral was conducted by Buddhist monks. His old De Longpre Avenue Apartment in Hollywood is now an official landmark. His gravestone features a graphic of a boxer and the zen inspired epitaph "Don't try." (woodcuttingfool.blogspot.com)

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Rodger Jacobs January 29, 2013 at 05:04 PM
From 1956-57, Bukowski lived at 2254 1/2 Branden Street (one mile from our home on Allesandro in Echo Park) while working at Graphics Art Center, and taking classes at Los Angeles City College. He also started work on his first [unpublished] novel at that address. Loren, I'm considering putting together a proposal for a book on Paul Landacre, noted L.A. woodcut artist whose former cabin home near mine is a city historical-cultural landmark. I would enjoy speaking to you about Landacre and the art of woodcutting [a subject I have previously written about professionally at Pop Matters in an essay about Lynd Ward that prompted a "thank you" letter from Lynd's daughter and estate executor]. Contact me if you'd like to chat.
Loren Kantor January 29, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Rodger, Paul Landacre & Lynd Ward are the Marlon Brando & Laurence Olivier of the woodcutting universe. I'm not worthy. I'd love to chat. You can reach me via my blog woodcuttingfool.blogspot.com. Thanks for the kind words.
Rodger Jacobs January 29, 2013 at 05:39 PM
I'll be in touch soon, busy day today. In the interim, here's the link to my Lynd Ward essay: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/135432-lynd-ward-walt-disney-and-the-ghosts-of-american-history/ You can learn more about me with a Google search or look up my bio at Wikipedia.

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