Part of our continuing series on the Wild Dog Collection by SHSU Special Collections intern Kara Stafford
Charles Bukowski was a famous author who wrote over forty-five works during the course of his life. He wrote poetry as well as short stories and novels. He was born on August 16, 1920 in Germany to Heinrich Bukowski and Katharina Fett (Bukowski). While marriage records show that Charles Bukowski’s parents were married a month before his birth, he often told people he was born out of wedlock. Bukowski’s father was abusive throughout his childhood and his mother did not intervene. Bukowski thought that this helped his writing, because he came to understand undeserved pain. When he was a young man, Bukowski discovered alcohol and spent almost ten years drinking to excess. In 1955 he was hospitalized and treated for a near-fatal bleeding ulcer. Once released he began writing poetry again. Later that year he met and married is first wife, Barbara Frye. In 1962 Bukowski was traumatized by the death of Jane Cooney Baker, a serious romantic attachment. The FBI files on Bukowski listed her as Bukowski’s first wife, leaving some to wonder. The next serious girlfriend Bukowski had was Francis Smith. Bukowski and Smith lived together, and when Smith became pregnant Bukowski proposed and was turned down. On September 7, 1964 Bukowski’s only daughter was born. In 1976 he met Linda Lee Beighle. In 1978 they moved to San Padro where they lived together for the next two years. In 1985 they were married by Manly Palmer Hall. In Bukowski’s later works He refers to Beighle as “Sarah”. Beighle and Bukowski remained married until his death on March 9, 1994. Several of Bukowski’s works were published posthumously.
Throughout the course of his life Bukowski supported himself and his writing with a wide range of jobs. He was a dishwasher, truck driver, mail carrier, guard, gas station attendant, warehouse worker, shipping clerk, post office clerk, parking lot attendant, Red Cross orderly, and elevator operator. He also worked in a dog biscuit factory, a slaughter house, a cake and cookie factory, and he hung posters in New York City Subways. In 1969 he quit his job at the post office and went to work for the Black Sparrow Press, a dream job for him.
Charles Bukowski liked to publish in smaller literary magazines and newspapers. In 1965 he published four poems in the Wild Dog magazine. These four poems can be found at Newton Gresham Library’s SHSU Special Collections in the Wild Dog Collection. The poems were published in Wild Dog Issue 13. There are two different versions of the four poems: a clean typed version and a manuscript version, which contains errors and edits made by the author. The four poems are called: The Madness of the Windows, Game, The Vile World of Windows and Hammers, and Down by the Wings. The manuscript version can be found in Series 2, Subseries 1, Box 5, and Folder 12. The published version can be found in Series 2, Subseries 4, Box 8, and Folder 13. Along with his poems you can also read correspondents form Bukowski to Drew Wagnon, editor of the Wild Dog magazine. The correspondence can be found in Series 1, Subseries 1, Box 1, and Folder 10.
To view and read poems by Charles Bukowski and The Wild Dog Papers visit Newton Gresham Library’s Special Collections on the fourth floor of the Library.