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17 Gritty Charles Bukowski Quotes About Life and Writing

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Emily Wenstrom

Staff Writer

By day, Emily Wenstrom is a content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstorm, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.. Her Chronicles of the Third Realm War series includes Mud (#1), Tides (#2), Rain (#0), and more to come. Follow her on Twitter @ejwenstrom.

Charles Bukowski was a prolific author and poet of the 20th century whose unfiltered style and raw honesty garnered a cult following. The German American’s works largely focused on autobiographical scenes focused on his life from the fringes with recurring motifs of alcohol, sex, violence, the lives of the downtrodden, and the depravity of cosmopolitan scenes. In 1986, Time called him the “laureate of American lowlife.”  Since his death in 1994, works continue to emerge from his publisher Black Sparrow Books, and his small press and underground newspaper works have gained a new level of recognition. Here are 15 of the best Charles Bukowski quotes.

17 gritty Charles Bukowski quotes about life and writing

Charles Bukowski Quotes

“Writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers.”

“We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

“Stop insisting on clearing your head—clear your fucking heart instead.”

“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”

“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”

“Find what you love and let it kill you.”

“I guess the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them.”

“Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others.”

“A spark can set a whole forest on fire. Just a spark. Save it.”

“I wanted the whole world or nothing.”

“Almost everybody is born a genius and buried an idiot.”

“Beware of those who seek constant crowds; they are nothing alone.”

“The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it—basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”

“You begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.”

“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.”

“An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”