Although at times the reader may have the impression that a poet’s work is without influence because of its unity, everything takes shape/is born from something else. There is no expression or pun or metaphor or any kind of written line that hasn’t drew inspiration from somewhere else.
This is also the case of Charles Bukowski. Of course, it is pretty hard to distinguish which poets had a direct influence on him and his work, and which poets were actually just admired. Here are just a few of these poets.
Robinson Jeffers is one of the earliest influences, him being actually the one that inspired Charles Bukowski to write poetry (previously, he only wrote short stories). More than once, Bukowski confessed that Jeffers was his favorite poet.
Ezra Pound is yet another early influence, this poet being the one that convinced Bukowski to move beyond the early 20th century modernism. Bukowski borrowed from Pound the precise and clear language.
The poet said about E. E. Cummings that had an eye for poetry, which means that the latter’s poems were always arranged in such a way to please the eye. Furthermore, Bukowski also confessed that it was a joy in finding new ways in which Cummings placed the words within a poem.
Without a doubt, Walt Whitman influenced almost all the poets that followed after him, in a way or another. His influence on Bukowski was so great that, at a time, John Martin, Bukowski’s publisher, called the latter the Walt Whitman of our day.
Pablo Neruda also bore a great influence on Charles Bukowski’s works, by showing the world that even the most direct and clearest style could also harbor new and unique meanings.
A rather unusual addition to this list is Catullus, the ancient Roman poet: his humor, his way with obscenities, his love for a bohemian lifestyle and direct language seem very modern and Bukowski-like.
Obviously, Charles Bukowski was also influenced by the beat generation, particularly by the way these poets approached the taboo subjects. Although it is known that Bukowski didn’t have any good words for Ginsberg (everybody knows that after Howl you never wrote anything worth a shit), he did admire Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.