Course:Bluebird by Charles Bukowski

From UBC Wiki
CRWR 501P 003
Advanced Writing of Poetry
  • Instructor:Dr. Bronwen Tate
  • Email:
  • Office: Buchanan E #456
Important Course Pages

I was about twenty-eight when I first encountered the poem "Bluebird" by Charles Bukowski. I saw it on YouTube of all places. There was one of those poetry videos made for it: the poem read by a mysterious, gravely voice —Tom O'Bedlam, which I now know is a fake name — with some heart-pulling music and visuals. I must have listened to it ten times trying to understand why it made me so heartbroken.

I had been introduced to Charles Bukowski before but I had never been captured by his work until finding Bluebird.

Although Bukowski was heavily misogynistic, a womanizer, a drunk; and all around a nasty individual, this poem resonated deeply with me. It's a poem about keeping our most vulnerable selves — our bluebirds — trapped and hidden away at all costs. It's about keeping it secret and not letting it out to be seen. In the poem the author embraces and recognizes the bluebird only at night but never fully accepts it because he puts it back. There is a fear here that the bluebird will ruin the author's life, that by letting their emotions out, they will fall apart.

For a long time I kept my own bluebird down. I kept it hidden away and it's taken a long time to let it out, and for it to feel safe to fly.

I found this poem at the beginning of that journey, when I first started to recognize that there was a bluebird in my heart too and that I was doing everything in my power to keep it secret. This poem, although the author wasn't the best human being, opened me up. That's what poetry is supposed to do. It inspired me to pursue vulnerability and authenticity in my writing.

I've had to put aside the way the author lived his life in order to keep this poem close to me, which some people may find debatable.


Add categories here