Charles Bukowski’s Letter – Terms for Poetry Reading
I love how many literary letters have been turning up lately. There was the letter of advice from Harper Lee, the letter from Charles Bukowski to a library that banned his books, the unearthed illustrated Edward Gorey letters, and the cover letter from Hunter S. Thompson that he sent in along with a job application, to name a few.
Today gives us another beauty from Charles Bukowski, this time outlining his terms and conditions to give a poetry reading.
“Hello Mr. Pini:
I rec. your letter from Springfield via Penguin. Today. All right. I am available for a poetry reading but don’t know if you have the stakes. It would take round-trip air (which I imagine would be a great deal from L.A. to Florida), plus $200. Somebody to meet me at the airport and take me back there. Also if I arrive a day early, someplace to stay that night, and if there’s a party after the reading (one of those beer-drinking talking things) then a place to stay that night. I don’t know about your funds. Auden gets 2,000 a reading, Ginsberg 1,000 so you see I’m cheap. A real whore. And maybe not too famous a whore? Anyhow, that’s it. If you can swing it, the sooner the better. Miller Williams of the U. of Arkansas says there is a standing offer of $300 for me to read there, so I could stop off there on the way if I can hook you for plane fare it would make the trip worthwhile. I promise not to be overly intoxicated at the reading. I quit my job at age 50, I’m 51 now and have been more or less on the literary hustle. That’s why I talk money like a pool sharp. It’s all survival; forgive me.
Anyhow, let me know what you think, yes or no…whatever.
I enclose an advertisement for myself…my first novel….wrote it in 20 nights. If you’re interested you can also get my latest book of poems, THE DAYS RUN AWAY LIKE WILD HORSES OVER THE HILLS, same press, same address, $4. I don’t have any extra copies of either.
I’m working on my 2nd. novel now, THE POET, but I’m taking my time. They say it’s 101 degrees today. Fine then, I’m drinking coffee and rolling cigarettes and looking out at the hot baked street and a lady just walked by wiggling it in tight white pants, and we are not dead yet.
5124 DeLongpre Ave.
Los Angeles, Calif. 90027