COLUMN EIGHTY-FOUR, FEBRUARY 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
(Copyright " 2003 Joyce Metzger)
THE HOLY GRAIL: CHARLES BUKOWSKI and the SECOND COMING REVOLUTION by A.D. Winans; Dustbooks, 2002 (P/B Trade 190pp) PaperBack Ed. Photos from the collection of A.D. Winans
A.D. Winans is one of those rare individuals who can honestly
make a claim of being a true son of San Francisco.
He was born in S.F., and except for a tour of duty with the Air Force in
Panama, has lived there all his life. He has walked the streets, seen the
conditions, talked to the people, and lived the life. Winans felt the energy
pulse of the Beat consciousness in the '50s in San Francisco's North Beach. His
friends and poetic acquaintances are like reading the who's who of small press
poetic endeavor...among them, the legendary Charles Bukowski, Bob Kaufman, Jack
Micheline, Kell Robertson, Doug Blazek, William Wantling and many, many others.
Winans began publishing via Second Coming Press in 1972. He
has remained a key figure in American literary life and the small press movement
up to this date. He has written more than thirty books.
A.D. edited, and published, books for many other voices, along with an
on-going literary magazine, Second Coming, under his Second Coming
imprint, for seventeen years, until he finally closed the publishing in order to
actively pursue his own writing. His poetry and prose has appeared worldwide in
over 500 literary magazines and anthologies. Explosions happen. What does one
get when two volatile substances are brought together, head-on, both pushed
through space, or a room, from behind, at high speed? One might imagine a
dangerous catastrophe of epic proportion, amidst shouts of pained outrage, kicks
in the ribs and to the head. Add,
crackling, twisted, searing voices shouting at the top of full lung capacity.
Instead, when the irresistible force met the immoveable object, we discover a
friendship that developed, bloomed, then lasted between Charles Bukowski and
A.D. Winans for over seventeen years.
"In letters, telephone conversations, and in personal
meetings, Bukowski and I discussed the small press world and the role the poet
has played in its development and history," writes A.D. Winans, in his
introduction message within the pages of THE HOLY GRAIl: CHARLES BUKOWSKI and
the SECOND COMING PRESS.
"(Bukowski) He was a man who shot straight from the hip,
the same way I have tried to do my entire life, the same way I have done in this
book. I believe this is what drew Bukowski and me together. There weren't any
games between us. No need to wear masks. We accepted each other for what we
were, warts and all."
These written words from A.D. Winans speak loudly above the
kick in the ribs, the long lonely solitary hours of beating the keys, the time
spent saddled with bores, bastards and phonies, the readings, coffee shops,
bars, lights, and love of music, which created a temporary vision that all might
still be right within the world. There are similarities. These two poetic giants
were both hard drinkers, womanizers, worked for the postal service, were unable
to make and keep an ongoing female relationship and both experienced episodes in
their formative years that left them emotionally scarred. But, there were many
A.D. Winans threw himself into local community efforts via
the San Francisco Arts Commission, neighborhood Arts Program and the Federal
CETA program, plus worked with the national literary organizations, COSMEP and
the NEA, and tried to bring poetry into local schools and state prisons. To my
knowledge, Charles Bukowski was never involved in any outreaching, community
minded, endeavors. THE HOLY GRAIL: CHARLES BUKOWSKI and the SECOND COMING
REVOLUTION will answer any questions you might have about the long lasting
friendship between Charles Bukowski and A.D. Winans. You might even discover why
they danced on ice cubes tinkling inside a glass of whiskey, why over the years,
churlish indignation, back-biting rumors, and poisoned barbs from jealous
wannabes could not, did not, faze
either of these poets.
If one has a tendency to read between lines, the reader's mind will catch tiny clues. You might feel the tension of the precarious equilibrium experienced by artistic minds; the tightening in the gut,
Bukowski the bravado
he displayed onstage. . .'
the twisted urgency that determinedly marches onward, armed
with relentless honesty, feeling openly vulnerable, as if inwardly crumbling,
before a reading, or, while waiting acceptance of the next book, as one battles
insomnia, solitude, intruders and fatigue.
"I watched him survey the crowd for several seconds
before tilting back his head and drinking half the beer. Bukowski raised his
hand to quiet the crowd. Bukowski slowly took his place at the table. He began
the reading with a poem filled with the kind of language the audience had come
to hear. The only language Bukowski knew---street language. Bukowski finished
the poem to loud applause, crushing the empty beer can in one of his hammock
hands and tossing it to the side of the stage.
"Bukowski appeared to be enjoying the attention he was
receiving, but this may have partly been attributed to his drinking. I say this
only because he (despite his reputation) was a shy man in those early days,
especially when it came to giving public readings. It was the alcohol that
provided him with the bravado he displayed onstage. There were a lot of
shit-and-fuck poems and some cute and clever ones. After each poem, he grinned
at the audience like a leprechaun."
A.D. Winans doesn't mince words as he tries to describe the
ups and downs of his friendship with Charles Bukowski, who was never an easy
person, with whom, to have a lasting relationship.
A.D. also tells us about his friendship with William Wantling,
Bob Kaufman, and Jack Micheline, all coinciding with the Bukowski years. Winans
also relates portions of his involvement with COSMEP, and some of the main
players on that very volatile stage.
"Hank told me he was busy working on a second novel and
said: 'Whenever I don't answer a letter to you right off, understand that I am
fucked up in one way or another, but when and if I pull though you'll hear from
"He went on to say it was easier to just drink and
listen to symphony music: 'I just need the horses and the booze. The women
always want to do something. Well they can do it with someone else.""
--Poem For All The Kids Who Couldn't Get Enough Of Bukowski--
He would be the first
To tell you that
He was an asshole and
And so are you and
Sometimes more and
He would be the first
To admit that
He was a hustler and
A con man and
He was both
But he did it with style
Which is more
Than you can say
For most of us
Rest in Peace
Order this book. If you are a devoted fan, a avid follower, a
reader, collector or critic, buy a copy and read it. Then read it again.
You will discover a somewhat tragic, though optimistic and sweeping
vision, of what it means to have an artistic soul and mind-set. For those who
imagine the solitary life is just a piece of cake, try picking up those crumbs.
Mind bending and excellent. From one who walked, talked and lived the events.
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