Rhetorical theory concerning the making of a writer in the poetry of Charles Bukowski
Woods, William Walker, B.A., M.A.
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More than any other contemporary American poet, Charles Bukowski devotes the majority of his poetry to the topic of being a writer. As rhetorical theory must ultimately concern itself with the making of a writer, Bukowski's poetry frequently is concerned with the rhetorical theory of invention. He returns again and again to what seems to be his favorite topic, the early training of the writer, the writer's place in the world around him or her, the influences upon the writer, the paints and pleasures of being a working writer, and so on. Bukowski can be studied as a poet who constantly offers guidance and advice to the aspiring writer, and in this regard acts in the role of a rhetorician, not unlike Aristotle, Quintilian, Cicero, Blair, or I.A. Richards. Beneath the veneer of Bukowski's drunken brawls, charity wards, and skidrow alleys, there lies a very established and sound rhetorical theory which can be applied to the college composition course, a theory which calls for extensive early training and inspiration on the part of the writer, practice and endurance, a clear, direct style appropriate for any writing occasion, and the emergence of enjoyment in the writing process.