Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski was born in Germany, shortly after World War I, to a German mother and American soldier father. When he was two years, eight months old, his parents put him on a ship and brought him to the United States, where they settled in Los Angeles, California, near the father’s family. Shortly after America joined World War II, Bukowski left Los Angeles, traveling to various cities around the country, spending the bulk of his time in Philadelphia and New Orleans. In 1947 he returned to Los Angeles, where he lived for the remainder of his life.While “on the road,” Bukowski was published for the first time in Story magazine. The year was 1944, and he was 24 years old. At that time he was primarily a short story writer who only occasionally wrote poetry. But a decade later, in 1954, that would change after Bukowski suffered an internal hemorrhage and spent nine days on the cusp of death in Los Angeles County Hospital. After that experience, he began writing much more poetry and quickly became one of the most unique and influential voices in 20th-century American poetry.Ultimately, Bukowski is perhaps more well-known for his novels, such as Post Office, Factotum, Women, and Ham on Rye than for his poetry. But even while he was working on novels he continued to write poetry and short stories. In fact, at the time of his death in 1994, Bukowski had written over 5,300 poems and stories. And those are only the titles that we know of. There were likely hundreds more that were written—and subsequently lost—in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, before he began keeping copies of his work.

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