Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Charles Bukowski’s letter to the man who inspired him to quit his soul-sucking day job to become a writer

By  on August 13, 2014 in History
Sometimes all we need is a little push and for someone to believe in us.

     In 1969, the year before Bukowski’s fiftieth birthday, he caught the attention of Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin, who offered Buk a monthly stipend of $100 to quit his day job and dedicate himself fully to writing. (It was by no means a novel idea — the King of Poland had done essentially the same for the great astronomer Johannes Hevelius five centuries earlier.) Bukowski gladly complied. Less than two years later, Black Sparrow Press published his first novel, appropriately titled Post Office.

August 12, 1986

Hello John:

   Thanks for the good letter. I don’t think it hurts, sometimes, to remember where you came from. You know the places where I came from. Even the people who try to write about that or make films about it, they don’t get it right. They call it “9 to 5.” It’s never 9 to 5, there’s no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don’t take lunch. Then there’s overtime and the books never seem to get the overtime right and if you complain about that, there’s another sucker to take your place.

     You know my old saying, “Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.”
And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

     As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?

     Early on, when I was quite young and going from job to job I was foolish enough to sometimes speak to my fellow workers: “Hey, the boss can come in here at any moment and lay all of us off, just like that, don’t you realize that?”

     They would just look at me. I was posing something that they didn’t want to enter their minds.
Now in industry, there are vast layoffs (steel mills dead, technical changes in other factors of the work place). They are layed off by the hundreds of thousands and their faces are stunned:
“I put in 35 years…”
“It ain’t right…”
“I don’t know what to do…”

     They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn’t they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good. Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait?
I just wrote in disgust against it all, it was a relief to get the shit out of my system. And now that I’m here, a so-called professional writer, after giving the first 50 years away, I’ve found out that there are other disgusts beyond the system.

     I remember once, working as a packer in this lighting fixture company, one of the packers suddenly said: “I’ll never be free!”

     One of the bosses was walking by (his name was Morrie) and he let out this delicious cackle of a laugh, enjoying the fact that this fellow was trapped for life.

     So, the luck I finally had in getting out of those places, no matter how long it took, has given me a kind of joy, the jolly joy of the miracle. I now write from an old mind and an old body, long beyond the time when most men would ever think of continuing such a thing, but since I started so late I owe it to myself to continue, and when the words begin to falter and I must be helped up stairways and I can no longer tell a bluebird from a paperclip, I still feel that something in me is going to remember (no matter how far I’m gone) how I’ve come through the murder and the mess and the moil, to at least a generous way to die.
To not to have entirely wasted one’s life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself.

yr boy,

- See more at: http://disinfo.com/2014/08/charles-bukowskis-letter-man-inspired-quit-soul-sucking-day-job-become-writer/#sthash.BESHn9JM.tfvo3WIM.dpuf

Saturday, August 09, 2014


Found this article on The Daily Beast today by John Garth. Enjoy!

Tove Jansson, Queen of the Moomins

There is a Moomin theme park, museum, Moomin T-shirts, even a Moomin movie. On the centenary of her birth, we celebrate the globally popular trolls’ Finnish creator.
The international children’s laureate of disaster and displacement, Tove Jansson, was born one hundred years ago, on August 9, 1914, just as Europe was going to war. She is most famous for creating the Moomins, a family of hospitable and adventuresome trolls who vaguely resemble tubby two-legged hippos. Today, there is a thriving Moomin-industry around them: a theme park, a museum, a movie is on its way.
The Moomins emerged fully in a story written in 1939 during the attempted Soviet invasion of her Finnish homeland, Moomin and the Great Flood. At the end of that book, the reunited Moomin family find a house “like a tall stove” in a beautiful valley where “they spent the whole of their lives, apart from a few times when they left it and travelled for a change.”
The last phrase turned out to be misleading. Jansson still had catastrophes to get out of her system. In the next book, Moomintroll and friends undertake an epic quest to save the world from a comet, at one point memorably stilt-walking across a dried-up sea.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Naropa Poetics Audio Archives

Found this cool link the other day from Naropa. We're just going to put it right here and let you play around with it. Your welcome.

Here's the link: https://archive.org/details/naropa 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Upcoming Events at Last Word Books

Tuesday, July 22nd, 7pm
The Every Two Tuesdays Reading

Join us for our Fortnightly reading of poetry, short fiction and whatever else we damn well feel like. Six featured poets followed by an open mic.

Saturday, July 26th, 3:00 pm
Poetica Scientifica by Leah Noble Davidson - A Poetry Reading

Join us for an afternoon of poetry with a reading from Leah Noble Davidson's collection Poetica Scientifica, as well as poets Ross Robins and Brian Ellis and Brandon Speck. 


Brian Stephen Ellis is a writer from Portland, Ore. He is the author of three collections of books; Uncontrolled Experiments in Freedom, Yesterday Won't Goodbye and American Dust Revisited. He was born at Eliot Hospital in Manchester N.H. at an unrecorded time of day.

Leah Noble Davidson has enthusiasm up the wahoo. Her debut book, Poetic Scientifica (published through University of Hell Press), was Powell's 3rd bestselling small press book of last year, and she currently produces Portland's Moth StorySLAM.

Ross Robbins is the founder of Bone Tax Press and Bone Tax Reading Series. His work has appeared in many print and online publications, including Ampersand Review, Vinyl Poetry, and Small Portions. His most recent chapbook, ALL IN BLACK BLOOD MY LOVE WENT RIDING, was recently published by Two Plum Press, and his full-length debut, MENTAL HOSPITAL: A MEMOIR, will be released by YesYes Books in 2015. Visit Ross online at rossrobbinspoetry.tumblr.com.

Brandon Speck grew up in Denver, CO then made his way to settle and write in Portland. He is the founder of Stray Arrow Press which features creative writing and visual art from people  within anarchist communities. Brandon is the author of This Early Purgatory, the first chapbook to be featured under his press. Brandon's writing has been featured in Words Dance, and Literary Sexts: a Collection of Short Love Poems. He has been hailed as both "cool" and "chill" by some people staying on his couch.


More on Poetica Scientifica:

Conventional wisdom holds that art and science are mutually exclusive.
Leah Noble Davidson disagrees. Consider the laboratory of the human endeavor: The absolute magnitude of love. The combustion of passion. The gravity of pain.

Davidson guides us through the physics of us and introduces a breakthrough theory: Poetry in motion.

Poetic Scientifica is at once urgent and gorgeous and brutal. Davidson catalyzes cognitive and behavioral psychology, visual culture, and linguistics to remind us that science, like life, is a sequence of experiences that result in deeper understanding of our own stories. Call it a book; Davidson wrote an experiment.

About the Author

Leah Noble Davidson has a curious 6-year-old and the charismatic precision of a spy. She lives in Portland, OR. Poetic Scientifica is her first book of poetry.

Saturday July 26th, 7:00 pm
Live Music! - The Hinges

Come catch some jams at the first live music show at Last Word's new location!

Happy Birthday Ernest Hemingway! #ernesthemingway #literarybirthdays

Why did Ernest Hemingway's chicken cross the road?


To Die...
In the Rain...

1899 -- Macho-man Ernest Hemingway lives. American novelist,
short-story writer & essayist, whose deceptively simple prose
style has influenced wide range of writers.

      Hemingway's obsession with war, big-game
                     hunting, & bullfighting is seen in his


     This Included the Spanish Revolution of 1936.
              Other writers in the Spanish Revolution:
     Federico Garcia Lorca, George Orwell, AndrĂ©
        Malraux, Langston Hughes, William Herrick.

     Ava Gardner played in three Hemingway films:
                The Killers, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, 
                                          The Sun Also Rises.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Things Found in Books

Found in Books
People have found teeth, money, and bacon inside their books.
Be careful what you use as a bookmark. Thousands of dollars, a Christmas card signed by Frank Baum, a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card, a marriage certificate from 1879, a baby’s tooth, a diamond ring and a handwritten poem by Irish writer Katharine Tynan Hickson are just some of the stranger objects discovered inside books by AbeBooks.com booksellers.
I recently opened a secondhand book and an airline boarding pass from Liberia in west Africa to Fort Worth, Texas, fell to the floor. Was there a story behind this little slip of paper? Was someone fleeing from a country ravaged by two civil wars since 1989? I will never know, but used and rare booksellers discover countless objects - some mundane, some bizarre, some deeply personal - inside books as they sort and catalog books for resale.
Adam Tobin, owner of Unnameable Books in Brooklyn, New York, has created a display inside his bookstore dedicated to objects discovered in books.
“It’s a motley assortment,” he said. “We’ve been doing it for about two years since opening the store. The display quickly took over the back wall and now it’s spreading to other places, and there’s a backlog of stuff that we haven’t put up yet. There are postcards, shopping lists, and concert tickets but my favorites are the cryptic notes. They are often deeply personal and can be very moving.”
Used booksellers often take ownership of books that have been in a family or a household for decades or even generations. “It’s easy to find things in books that are very dated,” explained Adam,” Such as a newspaper advert for elastic bands from the 19th century. My personal favorite is an ad from the 1950s that reads ‘Rinsing Dacron Curtains in Milk Makes Them Crisp, Stiff, Just Like New.’”
The most valuable item discovered by Adam is a letter written by CS Lewis - author of the Narnia series – but his monetary finds have been limited to a $1 note now pinned to the display.
Eager to learn more, AbeBooks.com asked its booksellers to reveal their finds. You might be surprised to learn what people will leave inside a book.
Money was a constant theme. As well as legal tender US dollar bills, there were plenty of foreign notes as well as credit cards, debit cards, social security cards, domestic bills, credit card receipts, and cancelled checks.
“A wealthy, elderly woman in my town died a few years ago and left a large book collection with many fine books, much of which wound up in my inventory. The remaining books went to a local thrift shop, including a microwave cookbook which, as it turned out, contained 40 $1000 bills. The book was purchased by someone from out of town who was idling away the time waiting for her ride. She took the money to a local bank to verify its authenticity and that was how we heard about it. She didn't give a cent back to the thrift shop, either. A deeply frustrating experience for many, I can assure you.”
Miep from Big Canyon Books in Carlsbad, New Mexico
(We called the Cat’s Meow thrift store in Carlsbad and the manager confirmed these events occurred several years ago, although she did not know who had donated the cookbooks. Last printed in 1934, $1000 bills are very collectible and worth far more than their face value, so the buyer of the used cookbook actually got far more than $40,000)
“I found many old banknotes of several countries from the World War II era. Some Japanese, some German with burned edges. I was helping out at Victoria's Books in downtown Arlington Heights, Illinois, a few years ago. I was running from the back room to the front of the store to get the phone and knocked into a massive old dictionary. The notes just came spilling out. The book was so massive we had no idea so much could be hidden in there.”
Barbara from Fairfield House of Books in Plainfield, Illinois
“The best item found was a $100 bill in a Christmas card used as a bookmarker. The worst items would be a tie between the used Q-tip and a baby tooth.”
Mark at BookMarks Used Books in Mount Prospect, Illinois
“I found a $100 dollar bill inside a book that was brought in for trade. I gave it back to the customer a few days later and it made her week.”
Natalia at the Common Knowledge Bookstore in Sandpoint, Idaho
Frank Baum
“Inside a volume, one of eight bought at a local garage sale, I found a charming child's Christmas card with the inscription "Merry Christmas to Harry from .....(fairly illegible). About two years later while trying to decipher the signature, the name suddenly revealed itself...."from Frank Baum". I sold it about a year later on AbeBooks.com for $2500 to an investment banker in Massachusetts as a Christmas present to his father, a passionate collector of Oziana.”
Jeffrey from Albion Books in Irvine, California
Katharine Tynan
“Two handwritten, signed letters from the Irish poet and prose writer Katharine Tynan Hinkson enclosing a handwritten, signed pre-publication version of her World War I poem, ‘The Recruit’, a typewritten version of the poem ‘What She Said (An Irish Peasant Woman)’ and a clipped magazine article about her children. The letters included writing for review and family news to a Mr. Webb Waldron.”
Jack from Porter & Frye in New Hampshire
“Dozens of dried leaves and flowers, each on a different page. Unfortunately, they had stained the pages of a very expensive book.”
Annette from Loves Park, Illinois
“In one book that came into our store, we found 40 pressed four-leaf clovers. Since we were heading into March, we laminated them and passed them out to customers, they really appreciated them.”
Charlotte from The Book Mark in Auglaize County, Ohio
Mickey Mantle rookie card
“A Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card. It was the original 1952 Topps #311 baseball card and not a reprint.  It is in good condition and I still have it.  There were three other cards as well - Gus Zernial (Philadelphia Athletics), Jim Busby (Washington Senators) and Leo Durocher (Manager of the New York Giants).  These cards are also originals and not reprints, and are from the Baseball Collector Series.  I believe these are also 1952 vintage and are in very good condition.”
Michael from Book Nation in Mississauga, Ontario
“A golf scorecard signed by Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.” (Sandy and Don formed one of baseball’s greatest pitching duos in the late 1950s and 1960s when playing for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers)
Fred from Fred Dorsett Enterprises in California
“A hotel cocktail napkin with a name and a room number on it – from Spain – found inside a 1945 mystery paperback.”
Nathan from Kayleighbug Books, New York
“ I found two printed lists of upcoming surgeries at a hospital. There was also a handwritten note recommending that an unnamed individual, who had staged their own abduction, should be required to do their volunteer service with a search and rescue team for about a five-year period. Today, I found an old calling card from Indonesia.”
Joyce from The Book Peddler in White Salmon, Washington
Found in Books
“In a wonderful old book of etiquette from the 1890s, I found both a calling card and a lovely hand painted handkerchief.”
Karen from Bens Books in Escanaba, Michigan
“A man brought in numerous boxes of books which had belonged to his wife who had died a year previous. She had stored many family photographs in the books as well as cards and letters. We filled a 9x12 manila envelope at least two inches thick. The most unusual find was a gold pinky ring set with a small diamond.”
Carl from Books on Center in Marion, Ohio
“Inside an old children's book, I found a green card; on one side was written in a child's print: “I love you, do you love me?” The answer was written on the reverse: “ I hate you and nobody loves me.” There were several additional cards saying "Nobody loves me."
Sandra from Nan’s Book Shop in Illinois
“Once I found two business cards carefully taped together. I picked at the edge and they came apart revealing a three-foot long accordionfolded panorama of 1970s pornography. I also once found a chocolate chip that was wedged down between the book cloth and the mull of the spine. The chocolate chip was dusty and dented, but otherwise unsullied. I wondered how one wedges a chocolate chip into the spine of a book, and how long it had been there. The book’s copyright was 1889.”
BL from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Aside from all the letters, torn out newspaper articles, shopping lists, business cards, and postcards (send and unsent), other objects discovered by AbeBooks.com booksellers include a World War II US ration book (with stamps remaining), World War II discharge papers, a pair of scissors, a valid driver’s license, a marriage certificate from 1879, a holographic image of a lady who sheds her clothing, theater playbills, a condom (unused), a cockroach (dead), and a strip of bacon.
Richard Davies

What's the strangest thing you've found in a book?