Isn't it odd, so very odd, that one of the loves of my idol should be writing me now? Perhaps life so works in stronger currents than we think, Charles Bukowski wrote in 1960 to Sheri Martinelli, Ezra Pound's former lover and sometime muse of the later Cantos. Martinelli had just rejected poems Bukowski had submitted to her Poundian literary ...
Isn't it odd, so very odd, that one of the loves of my idol should be writing me now? Perhaps life so works in stronger currents than we think, Charles Bukowski wrote in 1960 to Sheri Martinelli, Ezra Pound's former lover and sometime muse of the later Cantos. Martinelli had just rejected poems Bukowski had submitted to her Poundian literary magazine, the Anagogic & Paideumic Review, advising him to remain sober, pay the rent, brush his teeth, and above all, like her revered Master, consult the classics. At the time the 40-year-old Buk was still a relative unknown; he'd been writing poetry for 5 years, as he told his outspoken new correspondent, before that: 10 year drunk. He soon realized he'd met his match. Two years his senior, Martinelli had also been around the block. A self-styled Street Princess, in Greenwich Village she'd been a Vogue model, painter, friend of Charlie Parker, protege of Anais Nin; in San Francisco a notable literary diva, dubbed Queen of the Beats. For the next seven years, these two strong personalities engaged in long-distance intellectual sparring and soul-baring confession. Martinelli sends cookies, health food recipes, astrological and editorial advice; complains of her current love problems; tells this man she's never met about her life-changing May/December affair with Pound: he read me Dante, Villon, Guido, Kuan Tzu, the Sacred Edicts, Ovid...& seduced me whilst he read...sweet Gramps. Bukowski in turn argues with his Sister in the Dust about those he regards as literary impostors (Kerouac, Ginsberg), championing instead poets of pure aspect (Pound, Jeffers); reveals his trials along life's hard road, including incarceration for publicdrunkenness and periods of toil in a slaughterhouse and a dog biscuit factory; confesses his difficulties with the opposite sex (women cannot stand me for long, perhaps it is that I am selfish, I will not submit my soul wholly, I save a secret piece for myself). An engagement this intense was bound to cool. Darling, we would never get along, Buk eventually acknowledges. We are 2 bullheads. But while it lasts, this correspondence takes us for an unforgettable wild ride.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-05-28 Literary bad boy Bukowski and New York editor/scenester Martinelli Ezra Pound's former girlfriend exchanged hundreds of pages of wacky, outrageous, often oddly intellectual correspondence, but never actually met. Moore, who knew Martinelli and has written or edited several volumes on William Gaddis and others, posits, in a very necessary introduction, that Martinelli "was one of the favored few for whom Bukowski dropped the mask and engaged in serious discussion of literature and art." Predictably, Bukowski wasn't meticulous about saving Martinelli's letters, so his voice dominates, which is not a bad thing his letters are more substantively and stylistically interesting than Martinelli's, which tend to mimic Pound while reacting to Bukowski's offenses and exaggerations. Hell-bent on breaking every rule of style, Bukowski sometimes achieves lively, spontaneous prose ("don't you go slipping me no god damned educational material, I got an education of my own, mostly all at once one night"), sometimes cryptic utterances ("much short, today. tied to rocks of all sorts but will escape") and outright misogyny ("I do not read a female face; I read a female ass"). While Bukowski's letters (often written under the influence of alcohol and nausea) are shot through with vulgarity, much semi-concealed literary criticism can be gleaned. This important volume will be required reading for scholars of Bukowski, Pound, the Beat poets and American postwar art and poetry. Fans of Bukowski's irreverent ranting will rejoice; others may tire of his relentless, self-indulgent misanthropy. 16 pages of illus. not seen by PW. (June 29) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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