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The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems, 1946-1966

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,423 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews

Charles Bukowski is one of America's best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose, and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in Andernach, Germany, and raised in Los Angeles, where he lived for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944, when he was twenty-four, and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He died in S

Hardcover, 250 pages
Published April 1st 1988 by Black Sparrow Press (first published 1988)
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Melanie Daves
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book meant a lot to me, so I thought I would go back through it and read the random love notes I wrote to Bukowski and the lines I underlined. I know this review won't be noteworthy in any sense, but it is nice to go back through a book you love and remember why you decided to love it the first time you read it.

I am not one for re-reading; I am the worst culprit. I do underline for the sake of reading my favorite parts over and over again, but I typically do not re-read an entire book.

Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of modern poetry
A blazing brilliant bonfire of wondrous poetry.
Where do I begin?

This is quite simply and in all honesty, Bukowski's best book of poetry, hands down. Some have called it 'lyrical', and indeed there are some poems in here which are lyrical, romantic, sweet and droll. As one proceeds through the book, the harder, grittier poems increase and this is the style which Bukowski tended to develop more and more throughout his career and one in which he feels most comfortable. The greatest thing about thes
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: stew-bums, chippies, asshole geniuses
Shelves: poetry-corner
One of the better Buk collections because there's lots of prose about poetry writing, which is cool, not much horse racing and banging chippies for a change. There are some really sweet lines flying around in this tome, too.
Poem titles:
Death Wants More Death
The Swans Walk My Brain, In April It Rains
Thank God For Alleys
The Best Way To Get Famous Is To Run Away
Actually, the old stew-bum dishes out tons of fatherly writerly advice. I took notes because he's almost never wrong!
My introduction to Bukowski was in the form of his later poetry, which is, naturally, quite unlike his earlier stuff. His influences are more obvious (not at all in a bad way) in this collection, and his poetry is much more structured than what I've come to expect from Buk. But it has all the hallmarks of what I love about literature's favorite dirty old man, which is all I ever need to be happy.

Though I find it curious that his younger poems seem to betray an obsession with death and his own m
vi macdonald
I've basically run out of things to properly say about Bukowski at this point. I hate the guy so much, but I honestly can't think of anything eloquent to say about him that I haven't said before. As such I feel like it's time to bring back an old review style I used to use a while back, but abandoned for no particular reason: it's time for a hateful haiku, folks.

Bukowski is shit
Like, really, REALLY bad, guys
Why's he straight man bae?
Monty Wildhack
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Bukowski's finest era of poetry.
Chris LaMay-West
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I LOVED. Anybody who has ever spent time in the roominghouses of rough streets and/or their own soul will find things here that they recognize in their beauty, ugliness and honesty. The rest of my review can be found here:

Hikmat Kabir
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is one of my first forays into poetry and it was a pretty interesting one at that. Bukowski's writings are just so raw and visceral. I felt at times that some themes were reused over and over again in this large compilation. But the directness of the writing (and unusual style too in my opinion) never made this a dull read.
Anas Almansuri
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's been a while since I read such great book of poetry, especially for Mr. Chinaski ... It felt like reading Love is a Dog from Hell Again!
Dane Cobain
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This collection brings together Bukowski’s earliest selected poems from 1946–1966, which is interesting in itself because according to his author bio, he didn’t even start writing poetry until 1955. You can tell that they’re his early poems, too. He’s still finding his voice as a writer, and it’s his voice which made his work so distinct. Because of that, while this is a reasonable enough collection of poetry, it’s nowhere near Bukowski’s best. I don’t think I’d recommend it unless you’re alread ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I keep coming back to this author (about 2/3 through his body of work), a most conflicted man, typing poems alone in obscure tenement houses in a Californian post-war wasteland. His writing has little pretension, or expectation, just pure desire poured out on the page. And the man has real talent, perhaps exceptional, and he must have known that, or he would found some other outlet. It certainly wasn’t a living, in its time or even much later in life when he became better known. This collection ...more
Stan Lanier
Oct 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
... the teeth of my soul ache... (EATEN BY BUTTERFLIES)

I once heard James Ellroy say Charles Bukowski was a fraud. My introduction to Bukowski came when I was a green, 17 year old, living in the confines of rural Georgia at the dawn of the 70s. It was a documentary on Georgia Public Television. I had arrived home from my job keeping score at Little League baseball games, pulled out my TV dinner from the oven, set up the TV tray, and turned on the TV. There was a grizzled guy sitting on a stage a
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Bukowski, Charles:Counsel [from The Rooming House Madrigals: Early SelectedPoems, 1946-1966 (1988), Black Sparrow Press]

1 as the wind breaks in from the sea again
2 and the land is marred with riot and disorder
3 be careful with the sabre of choice,
4 remember
5 what may have been noble
6 5 centuries
7 or even 20 years ago
8 is now
9 more often than not
10 wasted action
11 your life runs but once,

12 history has chance after chance
13 to prove men fools.
14 be careful, then, I would say,
15 of any seeming nob
Jun 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Not the Bukowski I'm use to reading and hearing. I'm led to believe these are the early verses. In them hides the Bukowski that eventually emerges with the terse, direct approach that seemed naked to me, hiding nothing, hiding behind nothing. His honesty flagrant, pointing to the readers insecurities as well as his own. Here Bukowski's poems feel almost formal or at least dressed up. As if he is saying, If I'm going to express this (what some my deem) vulgar, violent or maybe working-class senti ...more
Jul 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: modern
"Wow Dad, what was Charles Bukowski like when he was a younger author and hadn't quite found his voice just yet?" "Well Billy, if you want to know that, then read The Roominghouse Madrigals."

So this is Bukowski when he was still trying to find his voice as an author. This should come as little surprise as this collection dates takes works from 1946-1956. It is an interesting work for one who wants to know what an early Bukowski was like. I will give you a hint, the majority seem like they are hi
Sep 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
I don't envy the life he must have lived/endured, but I was amazed by the imagery of his poems. My favorites are "22,000 dollars in three months" and especially "3:30 a.m. conversation". Poetry, like much of art, is subjective. You're either going to love it, or dismiss it. Its a book of poems from a 20 year period, and some are great, and some are not, but I gave it 4 stars for the ones that left such an impression at the time of reading, like a tattoo in the fissure of my brain.
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
a great disappointment.

there are some great parts that I marked and quoted everywhere, but I can't help feeling offended by the constant degradation of women in Bukowski's poems.

I don't understand how he was called the most influential writer of contemporary poetry.. or maybe I just don't understand poetry.. either way, I hope if he did influence young poets that at least they don't imitate his hatred and bitterness.

but aren't all poets bitter?
David Ward
May 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, poetry
The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems, 1946-1966 by Charles Bukowski (Harper Collins 1988)(811). Two-hundred-fifty-six pages of poetry - the table of contents alone is four pages long - and there's not a single poem in the whole book that I liked! My rating: 4/10, finished 5/12/14.
Matthew Konkel
Aug 21, 2008 rated it liked it
I guess a lot of people find these earlier poems superior to Buk's later work, but I missed the Hank style I originally fell in love with. Don't misunderstand me, this book confirms Charlie's place as my favorite poet but I just did not find the works as engaging as his other published stuff. Definitely worth a read for any fan or not.
Adam King
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thermometer and Destroying Beauty. A Trick to Dull Our Bleeding. So many gems in this, I'm sure to keep going back to this treasure trove. I'll recommend this to all my friends, but they're uptight assholes.
Oct 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
The best thing about this was the magnetic bookmark that was left behind
Julio Andres Astudillo
En esta ocasión, Charles nos proporciona un insight de lo que vivió en esta etapa de su vida; sumamente prolijo, examinando hasta los rincones ignotos de cuartos de alquiler, no pierde la oportunidad de exponer su punto de vista o reflexiones sobre mujeres, amor y de la muerte cotidiana.
Me recordó mucho a una etapa de mi vida en la cual, a diferencia de él que alquilaba habitaciones, pasaba en mi cuarto a oscuras, hundiéndome con el humo de un Marlboro rojo y con el aroma de la presencia de unas
Ivan Labayne
May 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: tulaan
was he crying, self-pitying, angsting the world away, sleeping in his sleep, kissing the mud, stinking in his small apartment, poor guy, poet of the lonely world, do not read this post-breakup, after getting laid off, after a lousy one night stand, while sitting on the toilet, read this if you're too happy you want to cry
Naomi Ayala
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'd read a number of Bukowski poems here and there but, having considered him kind of sexist, had never bothered to read one of his books. A friend sent this collection as a gift and I was grateful. Many of the poems really stood out for me, both in content and craftsmanship, and the introduction was thorough, provided a great context, and helped me appreciate his life as a poet.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Early Bukowski has a way of capturing my attention like no other poet can. The poetry in this collection is lyrical, emotional, and relatable; very, very, very solid indeed.
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've always had a weird relationship with Bukowski. One day I find him dull and vapid, and others I am uplifted and enlightened by his strange moral code and unexpected lyricism. This collection of his early poems is more the latter, as he tends to explore language more before he became entrenched in his signature style of terse macho grunts complaining of the hardships of life or describing the simple beauty of the everyday. This collection is definitely one of my favorites. I'll revisit this o ...more
Amber Smith
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
That moment - to this ...
may be years in the way they measure,
but it's only one sentence back in my mind -
there are so many days
when living stops and pulls up and sits
and waits like a train on the rails.
I pass the hotel at 8
and at 5; there are cats in the alleys
and bottles and bums,
and I look up at the window and think,
I no longer know where you are,
and I walk on and wonder where
the living goes
when it stops.

One of my favorites...
Sarah Embaby
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Charles Bukowski is one of the most controversial poets and writers, those selected poems was brilliant
even though it's not my favourite way of writing style, but those meanings are priceless
Bold, Insane and he wouldn't disagree with it!
Brilliant Insanity is required in this world, I Believe so as well!
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This is only the second book by Bukowski that I've read, the first being short stories called Hot Water Music. I admit that I don't exactly understand most of his poems. But the thing about them is something I can't quite describe. There is such an enormous presence in his works. It's as if Bukowski tears out of the book and bum rushes you. The allure of his stories and poems is inescapable.
May 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
this is my favorite bukowski collection by far. i found it in hardcover at a garage sale or something when i was just a kid, and i read one night stand and fell in love right there. i went home and read the poems and drew little pictures around some of them of fish and golfballs and rabbits.
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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
More about Charles Bukowski
“I want so much that is not here and do not know
where to go.”
“people run from rain but
in bathtubs full of
More quotes…