Continuing to remember the 20th anniversary of the death of Charles Bukowski in 1994, here is a video of the poet’s last reading in 1980. While he continued to write for the last 14 years of his life, he never read his work in public again. Here’s the story behind this document from the Wiki…
In March 1980, Takoma Records was about to re-release an audio recording on vinyl of a Charles Bukowski live poetry reading given in San Francisco years earlier. As part of the promotion of the album release, Bukowski agreed to give a new live reading, even though he hated doing them. Jon Monday, then General Manager of Takoma Records, video taped the event.
But by later that year Bukowski’s book royalties and movie advances provided him enough of a living that he no longer had to do readings.
The Redondo Beach reading turned out to be the very last poetry reading Bukowski ever gave. The video recording of that night stayed in an archive until 2008 when mondayMEDIA entered into an agreement with Bukowski’s widow Linda to release it on DVD.
Bukowski’s readings were known for their riotous back and forth with the audience and this recording shows this in full color. Each poem is set between a tense dialog – with Bukowski giving and taking insults and threats with members of the audience. It ends with the prophetic words “This reading is over”.
Here’s the flick…