The only ting am sure about is I’m unsure. I was certainly uncertain in my notes what I wrote in the early 1970s and it’s not a lot clearer now. I have had moments of clarity which I hope to capture in my new version of my old manuscript working titled ‘The Shrewd Idiot’.
Since my last blArt, where I saw that it’s been 40 years since I ‘published’ Apul One and it’s darned time I produced Apul Two, I been searching for and thru my manuscrips, typescrips, editscrips and all. WOW whattalot I got. So much that it engulfed me awhile but am thru the rabid rapids now and am in clear water I know wattam gonna do. Put them away til after BABE cos they dragged me away from my prep for BABE. Blew me off course. Not a bad ting tho, I needed to step back. Now I have a strategy and a plan for the 2015 edition of the Idiot who was never very Shrewd. I am going to take the words as they exist and re-present them in a way that should garner interest from future ‘readers’, what may be you! So, my task would be to put the source material down on paper in stimulating ways that I have seen or learned in the intervening years. I found some incredible images and words. In the 70’s I didn’t know my ass from me heed. I didn’t have the insights of having lived 64 and a half years that comes to me now. I had experienced life, quite a lot really and, coming from ‘down in the boon docks’ I were poor, I’d been to college and had some doors opened allowing me to peep and then they shut and said go out and find some work poor man or ye starve etc. But the doors of my mind had opened and I was chasing something, I knew not what though…and the search continued and took me to some very strange places. I found some drawings which I did as preps for the images in Apul One, bloody weird stuff, even for my output. Now I look at them and wonder. Is these the work of a deranged mind? Maybe. But I was tapping into my sub-conscious looking for material to work with and boy was there some strange stuff down there. Think of Dali and go deeper and I was plummeting a bit deeper, partly cos he and his like, Wifredo Lam, Victor Brauner, Maxt Ernest, they had gotten deep but I were going to go deeper. See illusn.
Also I were lucky cos I carted my little old Nikon F everywhere I went and then processed my own B&W photos. I did some incredible shots at the roundhouse in Camden of French dancers and actors which I would shoot on slow exposures so the images came out ‘moving’. These would make incredible big pictures, prints or oils etc.
Watch this space. More images and artists books….
Now I’m Dancing with a wing and a prayer on the ledge with Mr G(urdzhievjeff) again, on the tip of a leaf with Rabindranoth Tagore. Practicing for BABE http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/babe-2015-bristol-artists-book-event Sees ja thur!
I just realised it is almost exactly 40 years since I created my first artist’s book Apul One in 1975 so there must be cause for some celebration. I was talking to a late friend’s son on Friday and he said that he had taken Apul One to university had read it several times and it had been a bit of a cult ting there. Wish I had known at the time I would have gone there and done a talk etc. Strangely it’s not the first time the book has had ‘cult’ status. Lucien Nunes once told me he had done the same at the Haberdasher’s school. Those of you who know it will know it’s a bit of a strange book. It’s not at all like what a book should be. But it’s me, or it was me, then. I produced it as a kind of scream in the wilderness after working my balls off at college to gain my degree and then beginning to approach the galleries only to find a blanket total non-interest. I predicted accurately as it turned out that that would continue through my life. So I created my own gallery in the shape of a book, or buk as I called it. It could only have b&w images cos colour were too expensive and even then I spent all my savings on ‘publishing’ it. If you want one I shall be at BABE in April and maybe at Baltic in July and I am tinking of creating the long delayed publication of the follow up The Shrewd Idiot in time for the autumn, or Fall as you acrosst the Atlantic would say. I am going to chat with my printer today as to how he can print my plans for it. It’ll be an artist’s book and probably on semi-transparent paper so the pages show thru each other.
Here’s some images of the making and publicizing of Apul One in 1975-76.
The first cover
The wrap around cover front
The wrap around cover back
The wrap around cover front & back original idea
Sketch for the image of Apulhed on front cover.
Write up for Apul One by Peter Andrews
Underground poster for Apul One
Point of sale poster for Apul One
John St Field aka Jackie Leven 1972
Now funnily enough in one of the ‘comics’ in ApulOne there’s a sketch of Jackie Leven. It’s incredible to think that it was a song by Jackie Leven which triggered all of my recent books about ‘knowledge’ in pots in the last few years. Jackie sang ‘Inside This Clay Jug’ by Kabir
So now the book is in the British Library and the Bodleian along with the national libraries of Wales, Ireland and Scotland because it has an ISBN number, nevertheless if you can’t afford the extortionate price I charge feel free to aks for it there. And I could have represented all the home nations at sport IF I had been good enough at anyting! However it’s in the Tate Artist’s Book Archive on merit having been chosen by Maria White in 2008. My old mate DW did loads of searching yesterday and found all sorts of link to ‘apulone’ on the internet, ta Dunc. You can find Apul-one
Standin on the Bannista Contemplatin the Ways of the Werld & the Farting Donkey
I thought you may like to see this, a past article ‘published’ on canongate’s meet at the gate. I hope it all comes up in the blog on Sun Oct 19, 2008 09:00 PM GMT and posted on this blArt about a year ago, when I were ony 62!
I am an artist/writer living in the Essex countryside. I have had 20 exhibitions in Essex since 1978 and one in Burnley, my home town.
My life as an artist began at Todmorden Road Junior school at the bottom of Lyndhurst Road in Burnley when I tried (vainly) to copy the ships, cars & horses that my friends, Steve Hezzlewood and Roy Gidley, drew. Before I left junior school I wrote a piece about the reincarnation of two donkeys which I called Jack & Jenny in respect to my parents whose nicknames were the same- my life as an off-beat writer had started.
I am about to do a seires of blArts about the ‘Earthen Jug Project’ I have been working through for the past couple of years. This first one is from old writings about how the project began and some early outcomes. The next couple of blArts I have planned a revelation of the new ‘artist’s books’ which have come out this month, September. So, watch this space man.
A mock interview on my Earthen Vessels Project.
You made an incredible discovery?
During semester three of my MA in Art & the Book I made an incredible discovery – a book about the Karoshi scripts in pots at Ghandara. It introduced me to the pots which inspired the final look painted onto this one. And increased my knowledge manifold. Toward the end of semester four I made another astounding discovery which I shall share with you at the end of this film. Finding it beggars my belief.
How did you come about making your clay pot?
So to begin, I had had a long time interest in the Dead Sea scrolls which were found at Qumran. This was re-ignited by my hearing about a library found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945, the existence of which is not often mentioned, and I wished to know why.
A close friend of mine (DW) sent me a copy of an album by someone I remembered meeting at college in Exeter in the early 70’s. John St. Field. He had since changed his name to Jackie Leven and the song I liked best was called Inside This Clay Jug after a poem written by Kabir an Indian poet in 1450, 500 years before my birth. The poem as read by Robert Bly struck a chord within me. Recite from memory the clay jug and maybe Tagore’s version. (I could add his worm thinks it a bit odd that humans don’t eat books)
The words flagged up my interest in the way ancient cultures would store treasured documents in pots and hide them away. I saw potential there for a project around which to hang my work for the second year of my MA. I did not realise how much wonder I was about to enter.
The writing was to be gleaned from the work of 6 men who had pushed the boundaries in human thinking; Gurdzhiev, Beuys, Angeli Scheffler, Tenzin Gyatso, C. G. Jung and Hesse. I took the title G BATCH from their names
What is the significance of the number ‘six’?
I decided to base my project around the idea of a six sided shape, the hexagon. You can see my pot has a hexagonal base. And two of my ‘heroes’, Gurdzhiev and Beuys, had bees in their personal cosmologies. Gurdzhiev’s bee was from ancient Armenian legend as the carrier of ‘knowledge’ from one generation to the next, Beuys often used analogies about honey and the spread of ideas. For these reasons I had built in the hexagon as a motif. Martin Bridges, my advisor on the pottery side, told me it is the strongest building block in the universe.
How did you choose the form of your pot?
I began to look at pots. I found myself in Vienna where I met hundreds of pots from many old cultures and new ones too. My favourite was one which was a little lob-sided and dark coloured with images inscribed in it. It turned out to be an Etruscan urn. I found more about the Etruscans who indeed were a mysterious bunch who had a big influence on Roman culture. They introduced the alphabet to Rome and their sages were much respected in Rome, in fact the most famous soothsayer ever was Etruscan, he warned Julius Caesar of the Ides of March. Also, their script remains un-deciphered. In fact a lot of things from the Mediterranean and the Middle East are still a mystery, or at least not widely known in the west. But I digress.
Did you discover anything new about the cultures you looked at?
The urn invited me into their culture and I became fascinated and familiar with more scripts like Linear A which is also un-deciphered. In fact I began to look into how writing began. I must thank Joanna Drucker for that book on the alphabet, it’s a tour de force. http://marjorieperloff.com/reviews/druckwerks/
The Phoenicians were a group of people, called Caananites in the bible, who moved around the Med as influential traders. In fact they built Carthage. They hailed from modern day Syria and it was they who created the first alphabet at Ugarit. They would have helped the spread of the written word because of their movement around the Med. They would have come in contact with two islands which held the most power, known to us as Crete and Thera. Thera was destroyed in a massive eruption and the tsunami from it would have been more powerful than that at Pompeii. It destroyed the power base of the Minoans and gave rise to the advance of Mycaenan Greece. This is of great importance for many reasons because yet another script remains un-deciphered, Linear A, from the Minoans. I believe that is more important than even the destruction of Pompeii because if we can ever decipher it it would tell us a mass about the ancient world which remains hidden.
So what did you decide to use as a ground for your words and images?
At first it was my intention to put the scrolls inside the pot inside a hexagonal box. I investigated the way scrolls were made, from Torahs to Kerouac’s On The Road in the British Library. On my way to see if there were any Buddhist scrolls that had been found in pots I became aware of the pothi form of book, which I saw on ‘Buddha Of Suburbia’ documentary on a monk who lived in England but went to search for missing potis in Mongolia. I saw stacks of shelved potis wrapped in cloth. I did find evidence of scrolls in pots in the Dunhuang project with thousands of them having been found in caves in China but I never pursued that link yet.
What did you learn from the project about making?
Ok so back to the pot. I asked Martin Bridges how I could best make it with my limited experience as a potter? He said Pete, it’ll have to be a coil pot. So it is. It took weeks to make it as I could only do about 10cms a day owing to the weight and downward pressure of wet clay over a wide span, it would mis-shape if I loaded too much on. I used letter tools from Martin’s alphabet sets to impress the words from Kabir’s poem around the neck of my pot. So the word became ‘real’ if only in a negative form. I wanted the lovely colours and burnt look created in a raku firing but Martin advised against it, one firing at 1000 degrees was risk enough. Now I had my monster pot on which I left the ‘scratch’ marks used to bind the clay surface, which I had intended to smooth off but folk kept saying they loved it and some said it resembled a bee-hive and that suited my incorporation of the bee as a motif.
Why did you decide to make clay tablets?
I was aware that the Sumerians had written early texts in cuneiform on clay tablets so I decided to create a poti in clay thus amalgamating two early forms of recording words. I condensed words for each ‘mystic’ from hundreds of pages of notes from my readings on them down to about 40 words on each. I based the layout on a Tibetan woodblock I possess. I used the same letter tools as on the pot. Once they had been fired I painted them in a colour code for each mystic. I made a wooden top and base on a band saw with Richard’s help. I wrapped it in a cloth Buddhist style. These I handed in with my pot onto which I had painted several hexagons but that was not well received by the markers at the half way stage so I would have to re-consider my design. By chance, which Jung calls synchronicity, I discovered the book about the Buddhist community at Ghandara who hid pots in caves with Karoshti scripts in them, in which there are several astounding, and so well rounded, pots with delicate shades of yellow ochre and pink on them which I decided to use as my pot re-decoration. Some debate had opened up about whether my first hand in constituted a ‘book’. Did it have ‘bookness’? This caused me to investigate how bookness is being defined in the present artist’s bookworld. My ideas had been fed by Joanna Drucker’s formidable work in the USA but now I began to look at what is happening in the UK. I had visited the Oxford book fair during year one and seen wonderful books like the Barbarian Press. Since 1973 I was aware of the work of Dieter Roth as I had visited his subversive seminal show at the newly opened Hayward Gallery. A major exhibition of his collections of rubbish and films made during the final days of his life showing him sitting making books and prints was on at Edinburgh so I made sure I went up there to take part in the symposium about him attended by curators from big British galleries and some university scholars. This is all documented in my ‘notes’ for semester 3. Roth created ‘books’ on authors who offended him by boiling their books to a pulp and squeezing them into sausage skins as an obvious metaphor for waste products. I wrote an article which is to be published in the September 2013 ABYB putting my case forward that my pot and poti constitute a book. Sarah Bodman liked it and it has joined the debate raging around what Les Bicknell refers to as ‘bookness’.It seems that books take on as many forms as paintings do.
I see you went to the biggest artist’s book fair in the country, did you go for any specific reason?
At BABE Nancy Campbell had advised me on the layout for my scroll pages; an etching set to the left from which your eye could drift across right and find the words. Much better than an etching at the top and writing under it. I decided to do my drawings as brown etchings to signify old ink and the words would be chine colle of elephant font to match those words impressed on the pot in style, only this time I would be able to add lower case letters. These would be printed black with some key words picked out in red. The paper I used for the words was fine Japanese which gave problems when it came to trying to do them under the press with the etchings and I abandoned that idea as impossible. I then blind embossed a space in which I would later stick the words down with bookmaker’s glue. There are two copies of each scroll but every print has a different feel. I also did one set on half width Somerset paper which was to form the basis of the display book which visitors would be able to peruse on a lectern. This ‘book’ I have bound inside a cover with leaves on it. I kept the pages unstitched as a set of prints but in a set sequence for purposes of telling the story.
So you decided to write a poem to relate their ideas?
I dug into my knowledge base about the six mystics when I went to the BABE show at Bristol’s Arnolfini organised by Sarah Bodman and began to write a poem which was supposed to have the same beat as the clay jug poem. Altho I moved off that beat I did come up with a typical Kennedy ‘poym’.Typing them up was the first stage of editing. I sent the ‘poem’ off to 4 friends who all found it too dense so I knew I had to re-gig it so that folk had roads into my thinking and ideas. Karen Harrison liked the reference to dance and said it reminded her of Keats’ ‘Ode to a Grecean Urn.’ Which must be good as it is about a pot. She talked of my interesting use of repetition. So I did a big re-write. Sent it back and this time it was deemed much better. I had my printer print off some words on Somerset paper with a Hesse illustration but it proved inadequate on his inkjet. I showed the result to Jayne Knowles who liked the width of it and likened it to holding a broadsheet newspaper. I liked her idea of placing something on each side for you to hold and experimented using bay twigs but decided there is a tremendous beauty in simply leaving the scrolls as rolled loose self-standing simple curled papers.
And how do you intend to exhibit all this stuff?
Returning to the focal point of my final show I had Lyn Clarke make me two hexagonal table bases on which I would place the clay tablets emanating from the pot like the spokes on a Buddhist wheel of life. These would be placed between the ‘spokes’ around the pot and would be echoed in the garden by six logs carved with the names of the visionaries. A symbolic light source would be suspended above the pot made into an Archimedean shape, I hope, that is a combination of hexagons and squares.
Do you intend to produce any outcomes which may be saleable?
I asked my printer to produce four new ‘publications’ from the work In my project: a cardboard facsimile of the clay poti which doubles up as a concertina book. An introductory book called G. BATCH telling newcomers to the project about some of the ideas that drove it. A Dieter Roth style ‘copy book’ called Enbuk in tribute to the first recorded story in history about Enlil in the Epic of Gilgamesh. A series of banners using the words of each mystic in large capitals in clashing colours similar to the thesaurus paintings by Mel Bochner. My article in ABYB follows in the footsteps of other artists like Smithson and Weiner who also wrote in periodicals like ‘October’ as part of their contribution both as artworks and critique. Originally I intended to make the banners in a pseudo Japanese style but then thought it would be good to have some really modern images. I did a talk in which I used masks and music to create a performance in which the audience will be sculptural parts and the whole will be filmed as another art statement.
When did that happen?
On Saturday August 3rd 2013 at 4pm in the Minories. And your questions will also be art.
You started by mentioning the incredible discovery you made last weekend?
And I have not forgotten. What was it? I was perusing ‘Scribes, Scripts & Books’ by Leila Avrin where I saw an hexagonal prism named after Sennacherib as it was made in his reign in Nineveh about 3000 years ago. It has cuneiform writing on each of its six sides. I could not believe it. This discovery had come to me BEFORE hand in. So I journeyed up to see if I could find it in room 55 of the British Museum. And there it was.
About 45 cms tall. Now I know what I am going to make next, but AFTER my course is completed. I also saw a small section from a clay tablet ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ story in cuneiform. I shall do six more mystics on Peter’s Hexagonal Prism next. In fact it may be simpler to make an hexagonal prism ‘lamp’ to hang above the pot? I found heaven, whereabouts ARE known, here at home. Inside this old mug.
Since that talk I have done two ‘readings’ from new simpler versions of the poems. Then I simplified them some more and did a book called Inside this earthen vessel, launch date September 2014. Also David Jury and I have collaborated on a letterpress version where DJ prints the poems with an extra sub-text from my other poems. More about that in a blArt soon.
I heard belatedly, as is my wont, that they were doing a letterpress book in a day on 24th April and of course I missed the deadline with my ‘submission to play’ which was-
So I must learn to get in touch, I never did keep in touch, I am cool as a fool, no, make that tree werds; cool aka fool. I like this 3 werd ting. I spose it emanated from koans? Anyway, a friend was asking about how I write/prepare my blArts? As he sispected (hey spellcheck sod off, when I say sispected I mean sispected. Hell it’s hard to do sispected when spellchecker keeps changing the i to a u.) I don’t just write it off the top of me bonce, I longhand write it first then type it, the type-in is the first ‘edit & add’ stage then it goes on. I can ‘ed’ it again as I upload and I sometimes go back maybe weeks later and ‘edit & add’ agin. The following three werds show how I edit my writing
See what I mean? That encapsulates what I do. Those three words show how I edit and improve. The 3 I put in late were ok, but done in a rush sans gestation. Then I slept a couple o nichts on it and re-did my Buko article ready to post here and slept agen and saw that it would be better as CRAZY AS CASSADY. I wrote those tree werds cos Bukowski who didn’t like many folk liked Cassady and was like him except his drug of choice was alcohol whereas Cassady’s wer ‘speed’. In factotum speed was eventually, altho it took a LO…OO…OONG time, the death of Cassady when he decided, altho not any longer a young man, to race a alongside train, it was probably a art attack.
May be better still.
I was not going to do this subject but I decided to because the centre for bookarts Bristol did an artist-buk-owski-in-a-day this week. I wrote this article on the Big Bolcher back in 2010 for canongate’s sadly defunct now culture site, Meet At The Gate. I thought those of you who know not a lot about the Big Bolcher might be fascinated by the following. I must admit I read the bio and the poetry books over the Christmas period and I am afraid they did nothing to help me have a merry time that year. In fact, every Christmas since I have been dull and unfestive. Not sure if that’s cos I gave up drinking alcohol, or the damage of seeping in Buko’s sad mindset or just age?
Review by Pete Kennedy Jan 2010. Image above (my copyrite) – Is this Bukowski as a youth?
“Dear Mother, dear Mother, the Church is cold,
But the ale-house is healthy & pleasant & warm”
William Blake wrote that and he also said it is, “the road to excess which leads to the palace of wisdom.” He may have been fore-seeing The Big Bolcher himself.
This big book, beautifully presented, with a new photo of our gnarled hero on the cover, is stimulating and enjoyable reading. Bukowski’s poems are not mystical like Kahlil Gibrans nor zen koans and Lorca influenced like Leonard Cohen. His were more downbeat with an earthy soul which climbed as high as any but with regular use of obscenities and sometimes distasteful subjects are not for the faint hearts. Len is quoted on the cover of this Canongate ‘best of the best’ Bukowski collection as saying that, ‘He brought everybody down to earth, even the angels’. Indeed he did and he dug deeper into the human condition too. He chose to retreat from ‘normal’ life doing low paid menial jobs which neither taxed his brain nor his preferred social standing, in the belly of society. I also worked in the post office awhile, and it was the pits for me too and like Bonny Face Boy says, working there helps you to ‘get’ Big Bolcher’s viewpoint. I got very upset working for nobodys who mis-used their position but that led to one of the best bits of advice I ever heard, from a good salt of the earth postman, ‘Hey Teach. Don’t expect nothing from nobodys.’ And despite his penchant for the lowest ebb of life Bukoboy was not a nobody.
Bukowski had his own influences, from e e cummings to his favourite John Fante and the great Kenneth Patchen, whose habit of accompanying his work with paintings and drawings Bukowski replicates in the limited editions he did for John Martin his long time publisher who selected these poems to represent the work he thinks stand out.. Bukowski was driven to write finding his voice* battering away at an old typewriter, usually into the night, after a couple of six packs. Bukowski’s religion was alcohol, mostly beer but cheap wine would do. His young daughter learned to call Ned’s liquor store, ‘Hank’s Store’ as her dad spent so much time in there. He was known as Hank to his close associates. (See p334 for his ode to Marina which shows his undoubted doting for his child.) For some reason when drunk he would hanker to fight the barman, or other drunks, or his woman, the former may have been a retribution for the beatings he suffered from his father. He often comes over as reprehensible like when casting insults about Madonna to her husband Sean Penn. He compulsively sought sexual pleasure outside the norms of ‘acceptability’, asking the recent widow of his good friend Jon Webb to make love with him. Despite his low view of the human condition he had a deep hope. His poems carry a beautiful but ironic insight. Bukowski lived at a time when men were men and women were a good source of sex and food makers. In a late poem, p399, on his life he refers to all his friends, men, dying and he regrets not knowing enough (about) women until late on, too late maybe? Despite all of his faults his work was very popular by the time he died. His friend Sean Penn stayed true and turned up at his funeral. All of his life he had refused to run with the pack which gave him the outsider’s viewpoint. His was a questioning spirit which looked at all humanity with a critical eye. He was the Clown Prince of Poetry and like jesters of old he took on society, shining his torch on the soft underbelly of all our weaknesses. He acted a fool as the drunk irresponsible hurt and potentially harmful human. His main view was from the bottom with his preferred view being of the woman’s bottom! He adopted the stance of a nihilist yet he was an inveterate survivor whose constitution refused to succumb to the consequences of his lifestyle. He had no need to wear a mask as from behind his challenged features he viewed the world with the disdain of the down-trodden. The final two sections of this book, one on his cats and then on his impending death show his ability off magnificently. His ode to a ‘cross-eyed tailless cat’ is possibly his best self portrait ever. The penultimate poem-‘bluebird’- shows he had a heart and that he deliberately treated it badly until the very end! John Martin’s knowledge, garnered over half a life-time editing out the dross Bukowski sent alongside the gems, benefits this collection of poems.
* There are recordings of his reading but it seems his earlier best ones, uncontaminated by hecklers uninterested in his poems but eager to provoke his uncontrolled use of expletives in his reaction, were not recorded. His having lived the life of a punk at the time it was just becoming fashionable was a bonus for his public image. His spoken voice was however quite sensitive. He spoke slowly because as a child he had to measure everything he said as one wrong word could result in another beating from his father. His poems are best read aloud in a deep gruff Los Angeles lilt like Tom Waits who was surely influenced by Hank. As ‘The Boss’ Bruce Springstein must have been too, “The poets down here write noting at all, they just sit back and let it all be.”(Ashbury Park.)
The book has a good alphabetical index of the poems and a list of his major works with their dates. It would perhaps benefit from a mention of the date of writing and its published source at the foot of each poem?
I also reviewed a biog of Bukbolcher:
Review of Sounes’ Bukowski book by Pete Kennedy. Jan. 2010.
“Outsiders appear like pimples on a dying civilisation…If a civilisation is spiritually sick (so is the individual). If he is healthy enough to put up a fight, he becomes an Outsider.” (‘Religion & the Rebel’ by Colin Wilson, p9.)
The above quote encapsulates a large portion of Bukowski’s life, that is until his lifestyle became the object of fascination and he became quite rich and famous and people from Madonna to female students on a dare would pay him visits. He had the pimples, acne, which along with his German nationality led to his being ostracised at school where he would not join in the sporting hero mentality and was already siding with ‘losers’. He was not afraid of the bullying that came with being rejected as at home his own father would leather him with a strop, when he was not beating his wife whose own fear led to her seeming complicity as the boy got beaten. The beaten ones develop a hardness which in turn makes them harder to beat and later Bukowski was to take glee, during his drunken stupors, in fighting the bar-tender. Maybe he saw them as father-figures and wanted to vent his mis-placed anger on them. Some of his women were ‘whores’ and/or drunks and they would tease him sometimes by going off with other men, later when his women became more reliable he had the previous model imprinted on his psyche and successfully ruined many a good relationship by false accusations. One of Bukowski’s least tasteful habits was to fight his woman, even breaking Linda King’s nose, an act which cannot be condoned but which had an inevitability considering his previous penchant for picking the dregs of society as soul mates. If you think you can hack this guy read on, it gets worse, yet you gotta love him! Bukowski was a man of little faith in his life and great hope in his work which was eventually born out. When Rohde talks about men with a lack of faith in the power of love not surprisingly with his history this epitomises him as a man who has lost faith, who lives in fear and suspicion. Yet he had a great Humanity, and a good writer’s voice and that is what attracted me to his work in the mid -1970’s. Although I loved his poems in ‘Days disappear like Wild Horses over the Hill’, I think his best poems are among the best poems, I became disenchanted with him on reading ‘The Fiend’, a short story about a rape, in ‘Bukowski Stories. Erections, Ejaculations etc’ whose editor at City Lights, Gail Chiarrello, must have allowed him total freedom. In this biography Sounes points out that basically Bukowski was ‘pandering to his readers’ basest expectations’ and seeing how far he could push the barriers. As a 25 year old aspiring writer in 1976 I was impressed by Bukowski’s apparent freedom from editorial eyes, I saw him as a freedom fighter and free thinking writer. Which, in some ways he was, but not in his work for City Lights where he was earning a fast buck by writing stuff beneath his real ability in order to titivate. However, most of the writing was done because he was obsessively driven. Like all good writers he had something to say and it would out. John Martin at Black Sparrow Press would receive batches of poems and would sift out the weaker ones with Bukowski’s permission. Hank left a large body of commendable work which outweighs the stuff he felt the need to do to survive.
From Bukowski’s relatively long and complex life Sounes has pieced together a commendable work which he went about researching well, following up many interviews with surviving friends, lovers and protagonists of the poet. He leaves no stone unturned in the quest to uncover Bukowski, worms and all. Although there is still an academic book to write about Bukowski and his inspirations and influences which would provide great food for thought this is a thorough testimony. Bukowski used his own low-life experience rather than explain it, as Mallarme said “suggestion is the ultimate creative act whereas to name is to destroy”. As an Outsider Bukowski hated any form of privilege, hence his disdain for Robert Creeley the Black Mountain College poet and his liking of Neal Cassady, friend of Kerouac, who he believed was madder than he was!
Finally, the book has good source notes, bibliography & index which are truly helpful. It sets out Bukowski’s life in a brisk easy to read style.
Some more quotes relevant to Buk’s stance?
“If Henry Miller is to be believed, the erotic nihilist is the most pronounced type in America” (Peter Rohde in ‘Henry Miller, Between Heaven & Hell a symposium’ p51)
In the same pubcn.- …we find in (Miller & Whitman) the same joyous and impudent glorification of the sinful life. ..they are strong, full of health, at peace with themselves… they believe in life and they plunge into the intoxification of living with a child-like brutality. (Albert Maillet, p65)
The similarity of this Ice Age sculpture from Czechoslovakia made me wonder if it is a 26,000 year old ancestor of Bukowski? Was he around then or is he a reincarnation?
Now I have a surprise for yez, a little private ‘seekwet’, a little ray of Sunshine (not). I have to introduce you to my ‘littul helpa’, Daniel O’Blarty (Dob for short) who, I have to admit, has insisted on having some input to this blog since it started. Because I wanted to bask in all the glory misen I tried to keep the sekewut between him and I. But like me old mum used to say, ‘the truth will out’ and his mam would have said ‘tha troot weel oot’. The fact is O’Blarty is a distant cousin of mine from the olde country of my predecessors. He arrived for the weekend a while ago and has been here ever since. I have avoided making his contributions known for fear of contravening some recent rule about residence, entitlement to dole & housing allowances or payment of bed-rheum tacks. Oops there I go again, I’m afraid his influence is insidious, creeps up on yez it does. He is the same character that I wrote about in my tome with the working title, I Told You I Was A Genius where I disguised his identity with an alias, Rhody O’Dourke (O’Dork for short, Dork for even shorter). [If we can be bovvad to put his two monikers together and we have Dobdork!] or even Dork de Dob etc.
It all came out in the wash after the recent floods. People have been asking (he’d say aksin) why do I mis-spell words (werds) well truth (troot) be known that’s him! Sometimes as I’m writing he takes over my very pen and I’m too care-full to prevent him for fear of contravening some rule on political correctness or worse, race relations. I have to admit that I’m glad to have him around sometimes as there is a long tradition of great writers from the Olde Country; Jonofpen Swift, Dylon Tomas, Bendarn Behine, Rabbie Sideburns & Oscar Tamed were all frae Celtic soils. So from now on you’ll be able to tink to yourselves (yersens) or say out loud even, even unevenly, ‘Oh now I Understand, that’s not Pete (da Feat) who’s mis-sphelt that or said that profane ting or gotten it totally out of context, it must be his (illegal) immigrant helper Dan O’Blarty otherwise known in the Anglicised version of his moniker Dan Blarty or as they say in the Olde Country, Damien Blasterd?’
Author’s note. There is a long line of word changers, Shamans o’ de Pen including Flan O’Brien, Jimmy Joyce (as he’s known to his mates) and Georgie Herriman
whose Krazy Kat is for me the greatest komix ever by an Arizonan country mile! Although Sheila Hodgett’s Toby Twirl illustrated by an e. Jeffrey is a stunning second for me published between 1946 – 1958 when I wer a lad. http://www.tobytwirl.co.uk/
So. They invented characters, which is what the artist/writer artisriter does. In their day Krazy Kat and Toby Twirl were hughely popular which is no longer the case. Blake went the other way, his stuff was not popular in his day but has now got an international acclaim. Me, well I invented Apulhed, well at least once upon a time i believed i did. In 1971 I was a 20 year old student from Exeter working in Bournemouth for the summer when I drew my first apple with a face on adding things in its mind so you could see what he was thinking.
At the time I was very interested in extraterrestrials and whether they had ever visited planet Earth but soon I came to realise he was not extraterrestrial, he was from another dimension. Then I found an etching which he did where he was drawing me!
And his tutor was looking over his shoulder saying, ‘Look at what you gone done now. You do know that somewhere, in another dimension, that monstrosity will now come into existence?’ He created me! So he drew me so I could draw him. Later on when I created the Nonogon Nomads I pondered on whether or not they merely used me as a vehicle through which to manifest in this dimension. They are avatars. They each represent a human psychological attribute. They may even all be different aspects of my Self? Then I created Rhody O’Dourke, alias Daniel O’Blarty. Or did I just realise them? However, words and imagesare (only) symbols for ideas. Ideas are representative of concepts. Concepts are attempts to convey ‘real’ or imaginary perceptions. So (I invented) Apulhed and most of my ‘characters’ to convey ideas, concepts, perceptions & notions, from my understanding and experience. Together I use them in my (sometimes) rather pitiful efforts to convey stories, true or false. But that is what artisriters do. We (humankind) rely on them to ‘think outside the box’ to ‘create’ new worlds or new views on our world and other possibilities. I for example look to the likes of Hundertwasser, Alan Davie, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K Dick or even Philip Glass to create inroads into other dimensions of thinking hearing and seeing. Then, when those artisriter-musiciens raise their heads above the parapet we often shoot them down and say hey you, how dare you say you are good? We desperately need your input but don’t expect any reward, just keep on doing it til you disappear off this mortail coil and then we will say wernt he good now we can sell the work he left and line up in our thousands at variouarse citidals of fashion and say hmm this was a good one or this was not one of his best and all the rest of that carp.
I’m not a bitter man, in fact I don’t drink beer at all. Am stopping here, believe it or not this has taken days to write and you need a rest. I shall try to arrest you again with a follow on in a day or two.
also (Ah So!)
You know from my calling card that I was awarded Royal Akademy ‘Doubtful’ status in 2008. But there is another, even worse, RA in my life, Rheumatoid Arthritis. So, I have a swelling on my right mid-knuckles, it’s a rheumatoid factor, may be a remnant of when I was seriously incapacitated by my unwelcome lodger, Ruemore-Toad (face) Arthuright-ass. I had almost cleared every vestige of the damn feller, with the expert help of my doctors, Walters & Ovareachi. Plus an ever increasing schedule of light fitness training in Tai Chi, Ashtanga Yoga, Gym, Zumba and Tantricks Sex. I had rid mysen of most outer showings. Then recently a new swelling erupted around my middle knuckle. Being hypochondriatic I began to wonder what had caused this renewal. I went thru a number of possible causes. Then, as is my wont, I was reading Flan O’Brien’s book A Hard Life, as it happened, shortly after I had determined to discover the cause once and fer all. And there it was in his very words! Tha answer. On page 17 Mr Collopy is reminiscing on hurling sticks, ‘Many a good puck I had myself in the quondam days of my nonage. I could draw on a ball in those days and clatter in a goal from midfield, man.’(So similar to me on the football field but I used to punch the ball with my fist!) At which Mrs Crotty said bleakly, ‘Well it’s no wonder you are never done talking about the rheumatism in your knuckles!’ there it is, the cause. Recently I have been using a sledge hammer to hit some wedges into various sized logs to split ‘em. Sometimes the logs resist and take many blows which I knew had affected my ears cos my tinnitus returned (I never knew it had gone til it came back). But I was not really conscious of the damage it wer doing to my knuckles. I even blamed this typing lark, thought I may have to refrain from me blarting. ButNo, (me dad would have said ‘But no buttie’ as he were Welsh), I shall have to stop the splitting and hope the knuckles can recover. Funny that, I never did curling, nor cricket for thet matter and rounders, well I couldn’t hit an elephant’s arse with a ball hit from my rounders bat.
It’s 4am in the morning. I have so many books I could read. So many books I’m writing. I wonder? Do I/we need so many books? As excercise in Zen/Buddhism i could stop Now. All books I am working on, and believe me they are many, are both extensions of mySelf and distractions from the Real.As I build up my own output/ego i cannot be exactly in the Now. I am distracted in two ways. I’m always tinking (about mySelf, my book, my exhibition, my Talk, my article, my intervention). It’s all about Me. There’s irony here. Projecting that me is supposed to make me ‘be’ somebody. Alan Watts would have said ‘You already are somebody!’ Not just me, everybody is, somebody, somebody important, it’s that miracle of life thing, the miracle there is any life thing. The whole self-promotion projection thing ispreventing me from just Be-In (This Moment).I don’t do important things like ask others how they feel, what can i do for you type inquiries. Prepare food. pay bill. go round and help someone else etc. It’s all about me. Selfish me.
I did the drawing of Old Tom O’Scrollty long time ago. I must admit that’s really me rather than DW altho maybe it’s he too? The sketch fits this writing. A man so up his own and dinging a bell.His hands are swollen like mine used to be once with arthritis. The irony is. (I think) my writing and drawing- my ‘art’ is like a reflection of me and a catharsis and a sharing with others, you.So, like Dieter Rot’s auto bio stuff, it’s ‘art’. But I need to become a better cook and a gardener and care more for others.
The activities of Pete Kennedy, Performance Artist Bloke, Book Creator & retired artist.