Bukowski by Origa via Wikimedia Commons
CAIRO – 16 August 2017: August 16 marks the birthday of the late American poet and underground writer Henry Charles Bukowski, whose works explored the lives of America's downtrodden with a simultaneously humorous and somber style.
Bukowski was born in 1920 in Germany, but moved with his family moved to Los Angeles later on, which came to serve as the setting for many of his works.
His work wasn't afraid to flinch from violence, given that Bukowski was exposed to it from an early age. He suffered psychological and physical abuse from his father, yet this early awareness of injustice helped shape the author's misanthropic characters.
His book ‘Ham on Rye,’ published in 1983, is a semi-autobiographic account of Bukowski's own life, starting from his birth in Germany until he leaves to college, in an attempt to follow his writing.
As if the abuse he suffered under his father wasn't bad enough, the book also shines a light on a horrible case of acne that a young Charles suffered from, causing him to feel like a disfigured freak.
He would be bullied by the boys and shunned by the girls in his school, only further distancing him from the rest of humanity and shaping a propensity towards violence, which would bleed into his writing.
Alcohol was one way for Bukowski to escape his unpleasant life; writing was another. His first book of poems, titled ‘Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail,’ was published in 1959. He would go on to enjoy critical acclaim in Los Angeles's underground and parts of Europe.
By the end of his life Bukowski had published 1,000 poems, 32 books collecting his poetry, 6 novels, the screenplay for the film ‘1987 Barfly’ and 5 short stories.
Bukowski died on March 9, 1994, after losing a battle against Leukemia. He was 73.