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The Pleasures of the Damned: Poems, 1951-1993

4.44 of 5 stars 4.44  ·  rating details  ·  2,341 ratings  ·  106 reviews
To his legions of fans, Charles Bukowski was—and remains—the quintessential counterculture icon. A hard-drinking wild man of literature and a stubborn outsider to the poetry world, he wrote unflinchingly about booze, work, and women, in raw, street-tough poems whose truth has struck a chord with generations of readers.

Edited by John Martin, the legendary publisher of Black
Paperback, 576 pages
Published December 2nd 2008 by Ecco (first published January 1st 2007)
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Its another end of another week and you are sitting alone at your favorite place overflowing with all those pretty faces..late night over the got a perfect table overlooking the city below..the city where, lights in those tall worldly buildings are going out one by one.. you order rounds of your favorite tennessee while a supremely talented, highly unknown, underrated and underpaid local band is playing 'Tangled Up In Blue' by Bob Dylan you have started to feel lightest than you ...more
K. Hosein

I bought a book of Charles Bukowski's poems a couple days ago. I've read almost all of them. Some people think the guy's a hero, or an antihero, the quintessential drunk poet. He's really just a bitter, offensive guy. That isn't to say that he doesn't have a heart or that he's a bad person. He never put himself out to be better than he was. He was never on some high horse like most people I come across in literary circles. He was always honest. And this made his work great.


Sometimes people watc

William Thomas
There is only one other author who can do the things to my head and heart that Bukowski does, and that is Raymond Carver. Both of these men have moved me in ways no other authors ever have. Maybe never will.

I've heard all of the arguments against the man himself and by extension of that, his work. However, I disagree with all fo the critics on this front. The man is not a misogynist. He is a philogynist. Has always been. And anyone who reads his work, hears him speak, instead of pigeonholing th
Just amazing! My favorite poem so far:

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
don't swim in the same slough.
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can
categorize you.

reinvigorate yourself and
accept what is
but only on the terms that you have invented
and reinvented.

be self-taught.

and reinvent your life because you must;
it is your life and
its history
and th
Parrish Lantern
the bluebird

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
I read nearly all of this on the
Hank would've approved.
Really dig the mundane topics he often
wrote about, like a poetic Harvey
Some very clever phrases, and many not-so.

I took issue with much of the formatting, though.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a little
enjambment, when it's in
service to an established rhythm. But the
and unmotivated
line breaks drove me up the friggin wall sometimes.
All those widows and
Pointlessly, and to excess.
Someone told me his editor was resp
Tom Waters
As far as Charles Bukowski's work is concerned, you either enjoy his work or you don’t. As far as I'm concerned, any artist who can pen 54 books is worth looking into. Almost two years ago, a friend of mine read a poem of his aloud, with a roaring campfire in the background, during a summertime couple’s cocktail get-together--and I was hooked for life.
I'd rather read books, listen to music or watch films from an artist who's consistently above-par than fixate on the tiny visionaries who knock o
Let me start by saying I totally understand and agree with the hype surrounding Charles Bukowski even if most of said hype is coming from a bunch of adolescents on Tumblr who most likely don't have much life experience or at least don't have enough life experience to sympathize with Mister Bukowski's way of life (not that I am dictating who should or shouldn't read this as I think everyone should!)
Bukowski was like the king of the down and outs, I admire this man so much. His poetry is easy to u
This book promises 'the best of the best of Bukowski', and it certainly doesn't disappoint - then again, at over 500 pages, there's a lot in there to choose from. However, there's some new stuff too - some of the material was first published here, and its covers contain a sizable amount of the great poet's work between his early, formative years and his final days, dying of leukemia after a lifetime of heavy drinking.

And, for once, the editor is almost as qualified as Bukowski himself to bring t
Andy Jones

Charles Bukowski, where to begin. I've read many of Bukowski's poems, It wasn't until I read an entire volume by him that I truly got the bitter dissatisfaction he has with most everything, except cigarettes which are a prominent or passive fixation in his poetry. Throughout The Pleasures of the Damned I followed Bukowski's everday life and observations of the world that he lives in. Bukowski lives his life; he drinks, he smokes, he has sex with ugly whores, he pays his rent, and he feels sorry
Sarah Abigail
Charles my dear dear friend, you are a god. And thats it. There's no need to say anything else. I love you.
This collection of poems was my first experience of Bukowski's work, and after finishing the final poem today, I will definitely be coming back for more.

I think there's a common misconception that poetry has to be flowery and flowing and romantic, with lots of long words and pretty little turns of phrase. Bukowski throws ideas like these about poetry in the dirt, and stomps all over them with heavy boots, flicking some cigarette ash on them for good measure. He is old, grumpy, unhappy, elated, d
The New York Times book Review stated that this is the definitive edition of Bukowski's poetry and you would be hard pressed to prove them wrong. This collection includes poetry from Bukowski's flophouse days were he drifted across the country and slept on benches, in roominghouses, and with almost any woman that would have him. It details the golden years of his life where he finally got the fame, recognition, and money that he so deserved. It also, sadly, covers the last years and days of his ...more
Oh Bukowski... When I'm feeling down, crushed by this heartless world, I turn to you and your utter lack of sentimentality cheers me. You tell it like it is Mr. Bukowski. You leave blood, and tears, and shit streaks behind you... You were a lonely man with a heart of glass and every word you wrote, you wrote for yourself. The ease of your words is so deceptive. I wish I had the courage to be as honest in my own humble scribbles.

Highly recommended.
he's seen better days
I thought
that old boy, sitting
on the bookshop shelf.
a spent face
all wrinkled up
like a corduroy cap.

a random flick reveals
"The young lady
from Canoga Park"
- the first few lines
coax me in.
further flicks throw up
"big time loser" and,
"my friend William"
- this some good shit.

now he sits
a nightly dip
the perfect antidote
to the ennui
of matrimonial
I read this book because Bukowski is often quoted. I wanted to revel in his brilliance.
I was sadly disappointed, his works are filled with anger, revulsion, spite and profanity; scattered with intermittent gems that are struggling to maintain their luster amidst all the despair.
If only I had read this 30 years ago.
There's a whole lot of love for whores and authors (fante and tu fu and li po and sherwood and ernie) and his cats. There's a little bit of Chinaski in here, too. Themes of melancholy, love, LA, artists, war, cancer, poverty, people. Chuck is surprisingly softer than usual.

My favorites:
eulogy (about old cars)
fooling marie
upon reading an interview with[...]
a clean, well-lighted place
the girl outside the supermarket
*it is not much
a threat to my immortality (this one really made me laugh
as i am easily influenced by the artists i encounter (obsess upon) i cannot say i was unmoved by Bukowski's take on the modern plight of (his) humanity. i certainly gathered what others have apparently received from his poetic works: the beauty and the terror of our shared condition, and his unabashed normalization of the art of living on the fence line between mindless indulgence in the wares of flesh and regretful conclusions about our shared misery and the true worth of experience. i apprecia ...more
Sara Murphy
Charles Bukowski has become another one of my favorite writers but it is not lost on me that he is not everyone's cup of tea. Some of his poems stand out more than others. Some of his poems left me stunned so that I had to read them twice, others made me laugh and then some made me look at the world with totally different eyes. Not anyone of his poems made me cringe or leave me feeling disturbed (not that that is an entirely bad thing to feel, either). He gives skid row and the people who accumu ...more
I don't know, I always love Bukowski's poetry. I just didn't go for this volume that much. Not like a lot of the others. Don't get me wrong, there were some dynamite poems in there. Wonderful images, tight writing, overwhelming emotion, all that. Just like I expect from Bukowski. Still, I have been less impressed with these collections put together after Bukowski's death. This is kind of a greatest hits album. Considering that, I guess I'm not surprised that I'm less impressed. Somebody other th ...more
Justin Lakey
I loved it. Of course the poems where he parties are entertaining, but the best imho are the rare poems where he shows a real connection to someone. Now I don't completely agree with his lifestyle, but by being blunt and genuine, both in his life and in his poetry, Bukowski creates memories from moments, adds layers to a night inebriated, and strengthens his few relationships.
Mike Greenleaf
Actual rating: 4.5 out of 5

Pieces I enjoyed: something's knocking at the door; dark night poem; a smile to remember; a future congressman; fooling Marie; the young man on the bus stop bench; upon reading an interview with a best-selling novelist in our metropolitan daily newspaper; a clean, well-lighted place; the harder you try; a time to remember; no wonder; Carson McCullers; putrefaction; Sunday lunch at the Holy Mission; trashcan lives; the screw-game; art; hell is a lonely place; no leaders
Feb 19, 2008 John rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: buk freaks
If you've never owned a book by underground legend Charles Bukowski, or wish to buy a great holiday gift for a Bukowski fan in your life, the recently released collection "The Pleasures of the Damned" Poems 1951-1993 is the one to get. This massive book weighs in at 550 pages and includes the last of his never-before-collected poems, edited by his longtime friend and publisher John Martin who was the founder of the exquisite Black Sparrow publishing house. This book can also be read as a sort of ...more
These are not feel good poems. They are acidic and bitter--many wrapped still in that skid row stench Charles Bukowski (or at least Henry Chinaski) seemed to glory in. Deep fatalism runs through a lot of Bukowski's work and he often comes across as less a writer and more a diarist--commenting with dark, dark comedy about our meaningless lives (I'm not offended because he throws his own lot in the 'meaningless' pile).
I don't think Bukowski was a pleasant man, and quite a bit of his writing refle
This collection spans most of Bukowski's poetry-writing life, and if you read it cover to cover, it gives an excellent sense of growth and change over 40 or so years. The editor did a good job of organizing the poems in a way that made them more relevant to one another. While Bukowski was an often self-indulgent asshole who spent a good part of his life whoring, drinking, and at racetracks, he still has a knack for cutting through illusions and bullshit to get to what he felt was the core of lif ...more
This is probably the only book of poetry I've actually read through.
His poems are so unpretentious and genuine.
My previous exposure to Charles Bukowski has been an isolated poem or two shared by friends. I loved those poems and thought I would enjoy more of his work. For the most part, I was disappointed. There were one or two poems new to me that I enjoyed, when the subject was social movements and perceptions. But mostly it was just too much bitter, sexist, white male obsessing over his bitter, sexist, white male problems.
I still sift through it from time to time. This grumpy old man is something.
This is probably my favorite of all the ones I've read as of yet. Soooo good!
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Henry Charles Bukowski (born as Heinrich Karl Bukowski) was a German-born American poet, novelist and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.It is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands ...more
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