The Book Nook: Poetry for the every man

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MAY 21, 2013

The book: 

“You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense” by Charles Bukowski

Suggested for: 

Anyone who’s tired of reading cryptic poetry that requires extensive analysis (and people who avoid poetry because of that)

Clog Rating: 4-Clogs

While poetry isn’t usually people’s first choice for recreational reading, especially when school has finally ended and people are attempting to give their brains some much needed down time, Charles Bukowski’s “You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense” is far from typical poetry. This collection of poems is one of many compilations that Bukowski has put out over his nearly four decades of writing. We found that his raw style of writing was a welcome change from the from the typical lofty prose that is so common with other writers, and it’s understandable that he jettisoned his style of embracing gritty reality into the hands of greater public.

This installation follows Bukowski through a period in his life when his writing wasn’t taking off the way that he had hoped that it would. His choice to become a writer wasn’t turning out to be as glamorous or romantic as it sounded. These realities are depicted in all too real a fashion in the lines of his poems. Through his descriptions it becomes possible for the reader to feel like a bystander in the bar where Bukowski is using his few pennies to drink away reality. There are times when he illustrates his life on the street when money was nowhere to be found, and for the local UC college student, it inevitably begins to describe and take on the image of the general homeless population around Berkeley.

His poems are accessible for just about everyone but especially seem to ring true to the plethora of college students who are struggling to figure out how to make a living doing what they love and know. While there is an obvious generational disparity, there are similarities between Bukowski’s attempt at assimilation into the professional world and that recent graduates from any university will appreciate.

It’s also evident throughout the book that Bukowski has a troubled past that haunts his present. Exceedingly candid and raw in his depictions of the pains of his childhood, it’s not difficult to understand his hurt. While many written accounts of someone’s childhood can come off a bit isolating and inaccessible, Bukowski’s readers are pulled into the memories and experiences them right along with him.

Even though it’s understandable that you might be keeping your distance from poetry and all of its twisted symbolism, keep Bukowski in mind for some easy reading. This doesn’t mean that his poems are simple minded or don’t carry the same kind of meaningful experience as Dickinson or Cummings’ poems do, but rather that his stylistic blatancy and abrupt manner make him understandable for the masses. It’s a refreshing read — especially after spending a semester wading through hidden meanings and interpreting endless excerpts.

Contact Mackenzie Bedford at  or on Twitter


JUNE 19, 2013

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