The Charles Bukowski tribute in downtown L.A. on June 30th featured stories about Buk, poems by or about the man, as well a few unexpected additions.

Joan Jobe Smith, pictured above with her husband, poet Fred Voss, read her poem “Bukowski Chugs Cheap Beer…” and a poem Bukowski wrote about his beloved daughter Marina. She also reflected on her many late-night phone calls with Buk and how he encouraged her to start writing about her experiences as a go-go dancer. At intermission and after the show, audience members crowded around Smith to express how much they enjoyed her readings and stories.

Gerald Locklin (at right on video screen in above photo), a long-time Bukowski friend, read his favorite Bukowski poem “Fire Station,” and explained that the loved the poem because it was Buk at his best — funny and a bit dirty. Find Locklin’s books here.

Jack Grapes (at left on video screen in above photo) first started corresponding with Bukowski in 1965 when he was a young aspiring poet living in New Orleans. So began a pen-pal relationship (and occasional in-person meeting) that lasted 30 years. Grapes recalled that when he received his first reply from Bukowski, he couldn’t bring himself to open the envelope for three days — afraid of what Buk would say about the poems he’d sent. Grapes shared the letter with the audience in its entirety — a lengthy missive where Buk expressed his thoughts and feelings about the art of poetry and encouraged young Marcus (as Jack was then known) to keep writing. One thrilling comment — that lines in one of Grapes’ poems were as good as anything ever written by anybody. Check out his website here.

(Photo by Silver Birch, Los Angeles, June 30, 2012)