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Bukowski’s Lost & Found Drawings

By Harriet Staff

2-28-13_Bukowski

Stephen J. Gertz over at Booktryst tells us that no less than nineteen drawings by Charles Bukowski surfaced last week at the 46 California International Antiquarian Book Fair. According to Gertz, sixteen of them initially appeared as part of his column in the Los Angeles Free Press (aka “The Freep”), “Notes of a Dirty Old Man.” The others were published in  Sunset Palms Hotel  #4 in 1974. Gertz describes how the drawings surfaced:

The drawings come from the personal collection of L.A. poet-publisher Michael C. Ford, who found them while cleaning out his desk at the end of his own tenure as a Freep staffer in late 1974. When he offered them to Bukowski, he was told “ah, you hang onto ‘em, kid, they might be worth something someday.” Ford took the advice and tucked them away in his personal files, from which they have emerged just once before now, for a short-run display a few years ago at a small and now defunct gallery in Long Beach, California.

Gertz writes that Bukowski’s column “was probably the single biggest contributing factor to both the spread of his literary fame and his local notoriety as a hard-living, hard- drinking L.A. character.” Gertz continues to describe the context for both the column and the drawings:

Begun in John Bryan’s famous Open City underground newspaper, published in L.A. from 1967 to 1969, “Notes” continued in the Freep after Bryan’s paper folded, and was also picked up by underground and counterculture publications in other parts of the country (e.g. NOLA Express in New Orleans). Bukowski’s contributions, which alternated irregularly between prose and poetry, were often illustrated with his crude but evocative and humorous doodles; occasionally he dove into comic-stripland, as with his “Clarence Hiram Sweetmeat” episodes, which made a handful of appearances in late 1975.

You’ll find the rest of the post as well as a selection of the drawings (courtesy of ReadInk) at Booktryst.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, February 28th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.