Blog of Pulitzer Prize Nominated Author, Jory Sherman. Get the latest information on his books, appearances and his candid reflections on writing.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


Yes, Charles Bukowski, the poet, and I discussed poetry in his apartment on Mariposa and the one he had on DeLongpre. But, the conversations were not academic.

There was no talk of iambs, pentameter, tetrameter or hexameter. No discussion of dactyls or caesuras. For all I knew, Hank thought a dactyl was a three-toed prehistoric lizard, and stressed or unstressed syllables or the foot, held no interest for him.

Bukowski wanted blood spilled on the page. He wanted agonized screams from the bars on Western Avenue. He was fascinated with the dog shitting on the lawn outside his window, the whore who lives upstairs, the amber glow of the beer in his hands.

He wanted to use a hammer and a bludgeon to forge the lines in his poems, yet often it was a silversmith’s hammer tapping the delicate crystal of a glass chalice. He loved to talk of Robinson Jeffers and the hawks of Big Sur, the lean prose of Hemingway, and Celine. He did not know of Verlaine, Rimbaud, Neruda, or Lorca, for he was more grounded in the sensory impressions of his own world in the ghetto of West Hollywood where the streets shrieked in blaring red and yellow neon and the beer bottles clinked together on the bar while he eyed a black woman’s short skirt and ebony legs.

The floor of Bukowski’s apartment was strewn with the sheets of typing paper that bore our poems. We read each other’s work and I always marveled at Hank’s ability to capture glimpses of life and paint a vivid picture of the most mundane events and imbue them with larger and deeper meanings. He was sketching from life, while I was delving into my own psyche and winding my way through the human mind and experience.

When I read a poem written by another poet, it is the same feeling I get from listening to the orchestral arrangements of the great composers. It is a journey through the labyrinth of the human mind. In the words of a poem, as in the notes of a great musical composition, I can trace the writer’s or the composer’s thought processes.

Sometimes, it is like entering a huge empty house. No one is there, but you can see the rooms and all the furnishings, the personal items of the inhabitant, and feel a presence there that is palpable. In those deserted rooms, there is the architecture, the wood, the polish on the floor and tables, the scent of flowers and perspiration. The person, the writer, the composer, has left behind a mansion full of wonders and indelible secrets. I feel the pulsebeat of the house and its owner, I hear the heartbeat of the poet in the creak of the frame and flooring. It is a magnificent experience and I never fail to marvel at the intricacy of the human mind, just as I marvel at the complexity of the universe itself.

I go back there, to Mariposa St. or DeLongpre Avenue and sit and talk with Bukowski because I have his poems and his stories on my bookshelf and when I take one down to read, I am transported back to those early days of our friendship and realize how rich I am. I was there, at the very dawn of creation, and was a part of the powerful Chi of life, the dark matter and the dark energy flowing through me and guiding my mind and hand to create something out of nothing, to fashion a universe of my own making, one with rhythms and symbols that form symphonies of language and indelible art.

A collection of my poetry will soon be published. The book is called Reflections and is meant to be a companion to Bukowski & Me, already published by Rebecca J. Vickery and available on Kindle at, Nook, Lulu, Smashwords, Ipod, Ipad and other electronic reading devices. The poems were published by High Hill Press and the cover is a mountain scene that I painted with acrylics. The cover of the Bukowski book was painted by my son Vic (Jory V. Sherman).

Both books will take you back to those times when Bukowski and I read each other’s poetry long before they were finalized and published.

I hope you see and feel what we saw and felt way back then,
when we talked poetry and heard the music of the spheres.


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