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Penguin Modern Poets 13: Inscribed by Charles Bukowski to Irish Poet James Liddy

Penguin Modern Poets 13: Inscribed by Charles Bukowski to Irish Poet James Liddy

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Published in 1969, Penguin Modern Poets 13 was Bukowski’s first work published by a major publishing house and introduced him to a mainstream audience of readers. In letters from the time, Bukowski is much more excited about being published by Penguin than his first book with Black Sparrow Press, At Terror Street and Agony Way.

This copy is inscribed and dated to Irish poet James Liddy, sometimes referred to as the Ireland’s Charles Bukowski:

For James Liddy
Charles Bukowski

James Liddy was an Irish poet, born in Dublin, Ireland, and is best known for his collections In A Blue Smoke (1964) and Blue Mountain (1968). The publication of Liddy's poetry in The Irish Times in 1959 marked the beginning of a literary career that spanned nearly 50 years.

In a letter to Liddy around the same time as the inscription, Bukowski wrote:

"we're not going to cause any literary revolution, but we hope to say a few things, that haven't, for some reason, been said and to print the good clear strong poem -- the poem that drinks beer and smokes cigars and laughs -- sometimes.”

This book looks like it was owned by an Irishman who liked to drink. It was heavily read with lots of wear, bumps, and creases to the covers. There’s also a tear on the upper right front cover, exposing the page below. As with almost all copies (including the hardcover) the pages are toned from age – the result of the cheap paper used.

Bukowski shares this volume with Philip Lamantia and Harold Norse. There are 25 previously published Bukowski poems in the volume, taking up over a third of the book:

The list of poems includes:

I Cannot Stand Tears - pg. 11
Crucifix In A Death Hand - pg. 12
The Sunday Artist - pg. 14
A Nice Day - pg. 15
The Twins - pg. 17
Dinner, Rain and Transport - pg. 19
The Priest And The Matador - pg. 21
Sunflower - pg. 22
Old Man, Dead In A Room - pg. 24
The Day It Rained At The Los Angeles County Museum - pg. 26
Counsel - pg. 28
The Loss, The Loss, The Loss - pg. 30
The Sun Wields Mercy - pg. 32
I Am With The Roots Of Flowers - pg. 35
Love And Fame And Death - pg. 37
They, All Of Them, Know - pg. 38
Confession For Those Who Do Not Breathe At Funerals - pg. 42
I Wait In The White Rain - pg. 44
Sway With Me - pg. 46
A Report Upon The Consumption Of Myself - pg. 47
A Farewell Thing While Breathing - pg. 49
I Write This Upon The Last Drink's Hammer - pg. 50
When The Berry Bush Dies I'll Swim Down The Green River With My Hair On Fire - pg. 55
I Was Born To Hustle Roses Down The Avenues Of The Dead - pg. 57
Something For The Touts, The Nuns, The Grocery Clerks And You... - pg. 59
Case 8
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