Charles Bukowski – The Poetry Reading

Published by Christopher on

My brother gave me Charles Bukowski’s book Pulp as a birthday present a few years back and it quickly became one of my favorites. Bukowski in general is devoid of subtlety, which is likely why I wanted to use one of this poems as a short film. Here I use his The Poetry Reading along with backing from The Antlers’ Kettering with some footage from a cold day in Atlantic City.

The Poetry Reading

at high noon
at a small college near the beach
the sweat running down my arms
a spot of sweat on the table
I flatten it with my finger
blood money blood money
my god they must think I love this like the others
but it’s for bread and beer and rent
blood money
I’m tense lousy feel bad
poor people I’m failing I’m failing
a woman gets up
walks out
slams the door
a dirty poem
somebody told me not to read dirty poems
it’s too late.
my eyes can’t see some lines
I read it
desperate trembling
they can’t hear my voice
and I say,
I quit, that’s it, I’m
and later in my room
there’s scotch and beer:
the blood of a coward.
this then
will be my destiny:
scrabbling for pennies in tiny dark halls
reading poems I have long since become tired
and I used to think
that men who drove buses
or cleaned out latrines
or murdered men in alleys were

2010 is going to be a creative year and I wanted it kick it off right.

Charles Bukowski – The Poetry Reading from J. Christopher Rodgers on Vimeo.


Kerouac fan · March 24, at 10:20 am

I like the way the film is sometimes moving, sometimes still. Sometimes the cats are licking their paws, other times it's like a snap shot of them – no movement. That has a great effect. The backing track is atmospheric too. I come from a small seaside town so it means a lot to me. Bukowski's poem carries it of course.

rodgerscolin · March 24, at 10:20 am

nice attention to detail. the rocking chair, the chips and drink on the table

rodgerscolin · March 24, at 10:20 am

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Kerouac fan · March 24, at 10:20 am

Thanks for posting this – the film matches the poem. I love Bukowski's ordinaryness. – signed, Al of the Beat_Happening thread.

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