Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame (Anglais) Broché – 31 mai 2002
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Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame is poetry full of gambling, drinking and women. Charles Bukowski writes realistically about the seedy underbelly of life.
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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 1920 in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother, and brought to the United States at the age of two. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for over fifty years. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.
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All too often Bukowski is forced in to a literary box by those who have only read a brief snippet of his work. They see him as a down and out drunk, with a penchant for the written word. They fail to realize the greater depth of his poetry. Yes, Bukowski lived a very hard life, however, the booze and the women and the flophouse rooms also serve as a metaphor, illustrating his far-reaching insight into the world.
Through his poems, we see life through jaded eyes. So jaded, in fact, as to prove enlightening. From Bukowski's self-imposed exile from the daily grind, he is able to view the world of man objectively. He is able to gain a realization of the absurdities that all too often dull the lives of many, and in this way, Bukowski brings forth a certain level of enlightenment. Through his work, we too can view life objectively and combat the absurdities that plague us all.
"Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame" (1974) is in part a compilation of several earlier Bukowski collections published as chapbooks in the years before Bukowski formed his relationship with John Martin and Black Sparrow Press. The poetry is unrhymed, in short free verse lines. It is largely but not entirely autobiographical as Bukowski explores his themes of death and suicide, drinking, womanizing, gambling, and finding meaning and redemption in life through art and poetry. Bukowski's early work tends to be more metaphorical and abstract than his later poetry.
The first part of the book, "It Captures my Heart in Its Hands" includes selections from a chapbook of that name published in 1963 with poetry written between 1955 and 1963. In addition to poems detailing Bukowski's experiences with women and the track, such as "to the whore who took my poems" and "a 340 dollar horse and a hundred dollar whore", it includes several poems about other people, including "for marilyn m." and "the life of borodin" as well as a meditative poem, "the singular self."
"Crucifix in a Deathhand" the second section of the book, likewise draws upon an early chapbook which included poems written between 1963 and 1965. In addition to the title poem, some of the writing in this collection shows Bukowski's compassion for the working poor, including the poem "the workers". The poem "a nice day" shows Bukowski trying to give meaning to the mundane, and the awful, events of daily life.
The third chapter of early poetry, "At Terror Street and Agony Way", (1065 -- 1968)includes, in addition to autobiographical poems, poems graphically describing the lives of outcasts and losers, including, "true story", "x-pug", and "he even looked like a nice guy".
The final collection in the book, "Burning in Water Drowning in Flame" Dates from 1972-1973. Bukowski, already attaining some recognition, had received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to write these poems. The poems "charles" and "my friend andre" are among those in which Bukowski offers portraits of other people. Some of the poems in this collection I enjoyed include "the sound of human lives" in which Bukowski observes " I don't know why people think effort and energy/have anything to do with/creation", "burned", which tells a story of rejection in a way unique to Bukowski, the philosophical "pull a string, a puppet moves" and "dreamlessly" which laments the lovelessness common to many people.
This is an excellent collection for those wishing to explore the early poetry of Charles Bukowski.
These poems are full of humor, introspection, and managing to find inspiration in the smallest of things and occurances. Even though it may seem like some of the sentences are disjointed or out of place, every sentence is meant to be there and that is clearly visible when you reach the end of any poem in this collection. All of these poems seem to emanate with a jaded wisdom that one can't help but feel as if a lesson has been learned after reading each one.
My favorite poems in this collection that I recommend are "to the whore who took my poems", "for marilyn m.", and "i met a genius".
This book is a compilation of Bukowski's first 4 chapbooks (small books of poetry) covering his work from 1955 to 1973. His earliest poems appear in "The Roominghouse Madrigals," a collection of his less-than-stellar work from 1946 to 1955.
"Burning in water..." contains some of his first really good poems, and some at the end can even be considered among his great poems. It's a good introduction to his work and should be the first of his works you read. I know from experience that you won't understand his other books of poetry too well if you don't read this one first.
This book was also instrumental in formulating my own style of poetry. A must read for all readers and poets alike.