The poetry of Charles Bukowski: Made on a Mac



On Friday, Pete called our attention to a lovely poem by Beat poet Gary Snyder called “Why I Take Good Care of My Macitosh,” which features lovely stanzas like:

And puts word-heaps in hoards for me, dozens of pockets of gold under boulders in streambeds, identical seedpods strong on a vine, or it stores bins of bolts;

And I lose them and find them,

Because whole worlds of writing can be boldly laid out and then highlighted and vanish in a flash at “delete,” so it teaches of impermanence and pain;

And because my computer and me are both brief in this world, both foolish, and we have earthly fates,

Based on Snyder’s poem, you might be tempted to conclude that the Apple experience is synonymous with the zen and jazz inspired wanderlust of the Beat Generation as a whole. You might be right.

Charles Bukowski, the Beat Generation’s own violent, alcoholic and womanizing red-head of a stepchild, might not first appear to be a Mac fan, at least going by the opening stanzas of his poem, “16-bit Intel 8088 Chip:”

with an Apple Macintosh
you can’t run Radio Shack programs
in its disc drive.

Still, appearances can be misleading: apparently, Bukowski wrote all of his poems during the last three years of his life on a Macintosh IIsi computer running Mac OS 6.7. Not only did he write all his poems on the vintage Mac, but his output doubled, leading to more poems written than he had outlets to send them to.

Now if we can only just figure out what computer Allen Ginsberg favors, we’ve got the makings of a literary doctorate thesis!