The work of the late German American poet, novelist, and short story writer Charles Bukowski—frequenter of the racetrack and the barroom, champion of the outcast and the down-and-out—has found a temporary home on display at the Huntington Library, a private, nonprofit research and educational institution in San Marino, California, outside the poet’s adopted city of Los Angeles.
Among the documents and ephemera currently on view in Charles Bukowski: Poet on the Edge, the first exhibition of the writer’s papers, are photographs, letters, special editions of his books, rare copies of magazines in which his work was published, and pen-and-ink drawings, such as the one above (left), which has been reproduced in silk screen from the Black Sparrow Press edition of Bukowski’s poetry collection Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit (1979). The typewritten letter (right), penned in 1990 to John Martin, the poet’s publisher at Black Sparrow, also displays a quintessential Bukowski line drawing—a man with closed eyes and a bottle of something strong by his side. The author’s typewriter will be on display too. “Bukowski is one of the most original voices in twentieth-century American literature,” says Huntington literary-manuscripts curator Sara Hodson, who designed the exhibition. “He wrote for common people because he came from common people, and that’s what you will experience when you come to this exhibition.” The Huntington, which offers free admission on the first Thursday of each month, will feature Poet on the Edge through February 11.
Credit: Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens