Genre of the Week: The Laughing Heart


The best stories, poems and words of advice happen deal with themes that have to do with social pathologies- drug abuse, violence, dysfunctional families, bullying/harassment, poverty, internet addiction, etc. Most of them are written by people who were either victims of these pathologies or have witnessed them firsthand. Charles Bukowski was one of those authors who has written a lot about social problems and brought them to light in one shape or form. Born Heinrich Karl Bukowski in Andernach, a city in Rhineland-Palatinate, he and his family moved to the United States in 1923 when he was three to make a living. While Bukowski made his living as a postal worker during World War II, before quitting his job to become a full-time writer at the age of 49. Before his death in 1994, Bukowski had written six novels (including Post Office, Women and Pulp), eight non-fiction books (including Shakespeare never did this and Sunlight, here I am), plus hundreds of poems and short stories published in various magazines and newspapers.

This includes this FlFi Genre of the Week poem, The Laughing Heart. Written in 1993, shortly before his death due to leukemia, the Laughing Heart provides the reader with an outlook in life, encouraging the person to take a chance in life and let it grow, whiel walking away from the mistakes that shadows life and hinders it. It is touted as one of the best poems written by Bukowski, great enough for readers to steal the books where the poem is in, as stated by Ron Rosenbaum in an interview in 1999.

Instead of presenting the poem in written form, enclosed is a video version of the poem, where musician and poet Tom Waits reads the work of Bukowski. A musician of 44 years, Mr. Waits has taken a liking for Bukowski and has used him as a reference for his own works. He has read out and produced songs based on Bukowski’s work, some of which can be found in his albums as well as on youtube. This is one of the works being presented here with Mr. Waits reading the poem The Laughing Heart-



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