BUKOWSKI AT BELLEVUE(cast: Charles Bukowski; Runtime: 60; MPAA Rating: NR; Screen Edge/Eclectic; 1995)
“It’s a rare treat of great streetwise poetry for those who are hip to the Man.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Subversive poet Charles Bukowski in the Spring of 1970 reads his poetry at Bellevue Community College in Bellevue, WA. This was only the fourth ever poetry reading for the middle-aged Bukowski. It was videotaped on a primitive camera in a blurry black-and-white by students and lay forgotten for 18 years. Despite the poor visual quality, the soundtrack on this one hour reading comes through loud and clear. For either the uninitiated or fans of the poet, this is a defining moment in the poet’s career and a worthy video for the collector to possess. The poet was subsequently able to move on to fame and acclaim in the underground poetry world, but that came with some misfortune. The poems selected should give you a good idea of his anti-social themes reflecting his lowlife, if you will, lifestyle and his hard-edge outlook to life. Bukowski’s poems are about his skid row experiences, living with hookers and hanging out with marginal characters. It begins with his “Soup, Cosmos and Tears” and ends eleven poems later with “Something For The Touts, The Nuns, The Grocery Clerks, And You.” The moods range from showing outrage in one poem for “hippies hitchhiking in $50 boots” to in another a comical lambasting of lesbians and then saying “I’m not any more anti-lesbian than I’m anti-shoe.” It’s Bukowski doing his ‘shock and awe’ thing, displaying his unusual wit, drunkard’s sense of rawness, natural intelligence, anti-academic humor and contempt for anything politically correct. One great line has him bemoaning that “nobody knows what they are supposed to know… preachers can’t preach, poets can’t write poems… .”
It’s a rare treat of great streetwise poetry for those who are hip to the Man. The more respectable poetry types should stick to someone more socially acceptable like T. S. Eliot.
REVIEWED ON 8/29/2004 GRADE: A
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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