First published in 1977, Love Is a Dog from Hell is a collection of Bukowski's poetry from the mid-seventies. A classic in the Bukowski canon, Love Is a Dog from Hell is a raw, lyrical, exploration of the exigencies, heartbreaks, and limits of love.
Charles Bukowski is one of America's best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose, and, many would claim, its most influential and imitated poet. He was born in Andernach, Germany, and raised in Los Angeles, where he lived for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944, when he was twenty-four, and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.
Bukowski was the king of skid row poets. He was a drunk living in flophouses, working in factories, fighting, cursing etc. He wrote in a raw, hard hitting style. There is no effort to hide the warts and blemishes here. He wrote in a savagely frank manner on his life and the society that revolved around him.
He eventually became famous enough to befriend Hollywood types like Sean Penn. He wrote a screenplay called "Barfly" which starred Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway. It was partially autobiographical.
Bukowski produced many thick volumes of poetry for the Black Sparrow Press. One of my favorites is "Love Is A Dog From Hell". This includes poems that were written from 1974 through 1977. It fills up over 300 pages. Bukowski was a prolific poet in spite his personal problems with booze and gambling.
His poetry will not be for everyone. He is dirty, crude and has an almost absolute reliance on free verse. He is pretty graphic when it comes to sex and booze. . Poem titles include "sex pot", "moaning and groaning", "The Six Foot Goddess", "problems about the other woman", etc. Several poem titles wouldn't even make it past the epinions filter.
Bukowski goes straight for the jugular. This is not poetry for the meek at heart. He is, however, very funny and very direct. Some of the poems will resonate with near brilliance. Bukowski did have the ability to cut some very clean lines. At times, he can be deceptively clever. There is even rare poignancy. "One for old snaggletooth" is a mean title but pays tribute to his ex-wife: "she has hurt fewer people/than anyone I know,/and if you look at it like that,/well,/she has created a better world/she has won."
A poem like "quiet clean girls in gingham dresses" expresses a longing for a more settled life. He only knows prostitutes, pill poppers and neurotic women but he holds out hope for finding someone better. It concludes: "I know she exists/but where is she on this earth/as the wh***s keep finding me?"
Toilets, hookers, race tracks and roaches exist in this world, newspapers are blankets and mice eat moldy bread on the table, fist fights occur in alleys outside bars. It is not for everyone but adventurous readers who want direct, raw emotional intensity may greatly enjoy this verse. Two other quick Amazon picks are the collected poems of Mark Strand and The Losers' Club by Richard Perez