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Meeting Bukowski

Program Note by Art Jarvinen

Meeting Bukowski is hard. For one thing, he’s dead, so if you hadn’t met him yet,
you just might never will.

Unless you happen to be two Dutch girls who want to fuck him. But you’re not.

But if you happen to be a musician, a composer, and someone asks you to meet
Bukowski what can you do. You can’t fuck him, so about all you can do is read

Bukowski is his words. And his words are hard to swallow. Try not to eat his
words, if you don’t have to.

But the words are all we have. That is what we have been trying to work with,
those of us who chose to meet Bukowski, and make some sense of his words, in
our own terms. Do him, and them, honor, but also find some part of ourselves
within them – the words, that is.

Composers are expected to write music. Bukowski would have been my last
choice – my very last choice – for a source of text to try making music of. It is
hard, very hard, to find the music in Bukowski’s words. But that’s not his problem.
It is ours. We have to let him speak to us, and maybe even sing to us.

In his words.

And the words begin to sing. Oh my loving god, they do sing!

And how they sing........

They sing with pain, they sing with drink, they sing with a subtly disguised
sensitivity, a childishness that only comes with age – age before its time, before
it’s time.

Bukowski’s words do sing, if you listen.

They don’t come to you. You have to go to them. But the journey brings rewards.
Not riches, but a kind of estranged, graceful way of being in the world.

Difficult, yes.

But then, what isn’t?

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