“It took two visionaries living in the French Quarter to shine a light on one of America’s most unique poetic voices,” said Taylor Hackford, filmmaker and producer of the documentary, Bukowski. In fact, it was Jon and Louise Webb, owners of Loujon Press on Royal Street in New Orleans, who saw great potential for Charles Bukowski and from their apartment published his two books - It Catches My Heart In Its Hands (1963) and Crucifix in a Deathhand (1965). “It Catches...” immediately turned the “Outsider of the Year” into a literary star. On the night of his 99th Birthday, Friday, August 16, 2019, International House, known for honoring underground artists who found a muse in New Orleans, will kick-off a weekend of one-of-a-kind events to celebrate the life and works of Charles Bukowski. These events, open to the public, reclaim New Orleans’ place at the bar by bringing to light the intersection of America’s most outsider city and America’s most outsider writer – a connection that forever altered the 20th century American literary landscape.
“Being crazy maybe is not so bad if you can be that way undisturbed. New Orleans gave me that.”
Esteemed poets and writers from around the nation, as well as friends of Bukowski, are descending on New Orleans and will gather for a birthday tribute to this famous American writer, Charles Bukowski, and the extraordinary, lesser known tale of how New Orleans launched him onto the world stage. Attendees will include some of his closest confidants and longtime friends, Taylor Hackford and poet and memoirist, Neeli Cherkovski. Other notable attendees will include supermodel, author, and Bukowski-phile, Paulina Porizkova; author, television and film-writer, Joyce Corrington; publisher and book collector, Edwin Blair; Bohemian New Orleans author and professor, Jeff Weddle; poet and publisher, Todd Cirillo; poet Lisa Pasold; poet Julie Valin; writer and actor, Diana Shortez; and poet William Taylor, Jr.
Friday, August 16, 2019 | 8:00 – 10:00 PM
Bukowski screening and Q&A with Taylor Hackford
Saturday, August 17, 2019 | 7:30 – 11:00 PM
Roundtable discussion, Audience Q&A,
Poetry reading of Bukowski’s poems with the writers listed above.
“Booze, Broads, and Bukowski” Burlesque Show
The hotel will display a 7-foot mixed media piece by artist Britney Penouilh that vividly brings to life the story of Bukowski and New Orleans using a collage of letters, photographs, and lore. Accenting the evening will be casual fare: barfly music, stiff spirits, and Bukowski-inspired snacks like Ham on Rye sandwiches (a subtle nod to the 1982 semi-autobiographical novel by Bukowski) and a “San Pedro” Taco Truck.
Though born in Germany, Bukowski immigrated to America at a young age and lived most of his life in California. He may have called Los Angeles home, but it was New Orleans that helped catapult him from relative obscurity to international acclaim. Over the years, he was greatly influenced by his travels across the landscape and particularly drawn to the downtrodden, whose lives he captured with profane, but endearing prose. “Without trying to make himself look good, much less heroic…Bukowski writes with no apologies from the frayed edges of society,” San Francisco book critic Stephen Kessler once noted. “It Catches...” was unconventional – hand-set and printed by letterpress, using multiple stocks and colors of paper, as well as a variety of fonts and type-sizes, reflecting the distinctive and quirky design aesthetic of publishers, Jon and Louise “Gypsy Lou” Webb. Yet, it was The New York Times, in an improbable 1964 book review, that captured a moment of epiphany, introducing the world to an epic, new talent and forever linking him to this storied city. Charles Bukowski would go on to write thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, six novels, and over 60 books, and the journey took off in New Orleans. From the famous – Bono, Tom Waits, Sean Penn, Johnny Depp – to Bohemian fugitives, writers and readers unknown to fame, he, and his gift for writing, have inspired tens of millions of people worldwide. And, William Corrington perhaps best explained why: “His poetry is the spoken voice nailed to paper.”
“I'd always thought of the city's creative personality as being distilled only from its music. Looking at this beautiful creation from the Loujon Press, I realized that New Orleans was also a literary juggernaut. These two would-be intellectuals had found a brilliant literary voice 2000 miles away, a voice that translated LA's "Mean Streets," as well as Raymond Chandler ever had. Of course, at that point Bukowski was still working in the Post Office, completely unknown in the city he wrote his poems about. I was blessed to share a lot of time with Hank and have him call me his friend,” said Taylor Hackford, endearingly.
221 Camp Street New Orleans 70130 | 504-553-9550 | IHHOTEL.COM