Skip to product information
1 of 7

The Buk Shop

Charles Bukowski 1963 Signed Letter to “Harry” with American Turf Magazine (1966)

Charles Bukowski 1963 Signed Letter to “Harry” with American Turf Magazine (1966)

Regular price $2,100.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $2,100.00 USD
Sale Sold out
Tax included. Shipping calculated at checkout.

I don’t know who Harry was, but Bukowski sure didn’t think much of his system for playing the horses.

Bukowski dated this letter “Mid July, ‘63” and only lists “L.A.” as the origin of the letter. However, Bukowski had recently moved from his longtime 1623 North Mariposa Avenue address to 5126 1/4 DeLongpre Avenue. Bukowski was now to become a father and he and Frances Smith needed more space for the soon-to-arrive Marina Bukowski, his only child. It was a temporary stop until they moved into Bukowski’s infamous 5124 DeLongpre Avenue apartment the following February.

This letter comes with a copy of the July 1966 issue of American Turf Monthly. It contains the poem “No. 6”. It was Bukowski’s only appearance in a horse racing magazine, This is a very scarce, much prized magazine for Bukowski collectors for obvious reasons.

After Bukowski submitted No. 6, he received a letter from Joseph Conte, editor of American Turf at the time. Bukowski responded to Conte in a letter dated “Late April, 1966”:

“sure, if you can ram the #6 poem through, I’ll take a year’s subscription., I’m hooked on horses but rather mathematically, playing with odds and systems, experiments. I’ve found that the further away you can get from a racing form the better chance you have. One system is based ENTIRELY UPON INDEX NUMBERS and shows continuous profit. The other is based entirely UPON THE ODDS LISTED IN THE RACING FORM AND THE ODDS ON THE TRACK PROGRAM. Both systems work, in short, because they reverse to an extreme everything the public does or wants. The only problem is getting up your guts to play the things…”

After publication, Bukowski sent another letter to Conte on June 12, 1966, describing in vivid detail what would become a common theme about the track in future poems and writings:

“…got the July issue and #6 poem, looks fine, and think it will fit some of your readers. but the horse-poems just don’t come anymore – just the madness of the crowd, that whole body of many-legged, headed, cocked and cunted, wailing and greedy and angry animal. also suicidal. a hell of a gang. and the insiders shove it to them and collect – deliberate 5 pound overweights, first time starters, fillies against colts, bandages, bleeders, class jumps, the works. they jam it to them like bayonets and take away the money. whatever the crowd has learned changes and no longer becomes true – first they ruin the price and 2nd they are manipulated against. enough lecture…”

In terms of condition, the letter is heavily toned on the typed side, and for some reason not on the rear. It looks like it may have been laid into a book. It is signed “Buk” in thin black ink and the typing paper is cheap in quality and now fragile. But that’s what Bukowski used back then.

The copy of American Turf Monthly Vol. 20, No. 240, is in nice, solid shape. The colors are vivid still and the binding is solid. There are faint wrinkles to the covers and some light staining and toning to the rear cover.

I’d grade it Near Fine-minus. I have yet to see another copy on the market.

Case 6

View full details