In an extremely candid conversation, gutter poet Charles Bukowski talks with his wife and the producer of his reader, Run with the Hunted, about how creativity consumed him. If he wasn't writing, he was dying. "It's a release. It's my psychiatry, letting this shit out," he says in the Harper Collins-released short, Charles Bukowski Uncensored Candid Conversation.
Bukowski has been decried for the obvious sexism and subtle classism in his work, so we should take all the grains of salt necessary to listen to his thoughts on creativity. He compares himself to young writers who make it in their 20s and spend the rest of their lives at cocktail parties. "I was blessed with a crappy life," he says. "A crappy life to write about." Animation by Quoted Studios and filmmaker Drew Christie embeds an appropriate level of griminess into the visuals of the conversation, which highlight the depravity that both attracts and repels Bukowski readers.
Perhaps most compelling is his relationship with writing and creativity. "You know what I'm interested in?" he asks. "What I'm gonna type tomorrow night. That's all that interests me. The next poem. The next fucking line… If you can't write the next line, you're dead." Does simple fascination forgive decades of misogyny and other disgusting behavior? Of course not. But if we can't learn from people with whom we disagree, or even find deplorable, then centuries of art, history, and culture are flushed down the toilet. As Jerry Saltz points out, Wagner was a Jew-hater, but does that mean we can't enjoy The Ring Cycle?
Bukowski will have been dead for 22 years next week, yet remains relevant to the conversation about how we look at words and the people who make them. "I think after I'm dead they're going to really trot me out," he says in the 1993 interview, just a year before his death, which you can watch and listen to below. He was right. His feelings on the matter? "It'll be sickening."