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50 Powerful Charles Bukowski Quotes on Life, Society, and Writing

Published on January 21, 2020 7:00 AM EST
Powerful Charles Bukowski Quotes on Life, Society, and Writing

As we move through our daily routine, we often can use some thought-provoking quotes to reinvigorate our lives and spark new ideas. Today, we have curated these Charles Bukowski quotes to help you see life from a brand new perspective. 

What’s your favorite body of work from writer Charles Bukowski?

Charles Bukowski is a well-known German-American writer that has written dozens of major works including poems, novels, and short stories. His work often dives into the life of the everyday person and discusses universal themes including relationships and the turmoils of work.

Powerful Charles Bukowski Quotes on Life, Society, and Writing

Whether you’re slowly trudging through a workday or in need of an inspirational pick-me-up, you’ll find the wise words you are looking for in these Charles Bukowski quotes. 

We also have a collection of David Bowie quotes as well as a curated list of Mary Oliver quotes to live by. Be sure to also check those out.

Motivational Charles Bukowski quotes

1. “Find what you love and let it kill you.” – Charles Bukowski

2. “If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose.” – Charles Bukowski

3. “It’s better to do a dull thing with style than a dangerous thing without it.” – Charles Bukowski

4. “If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.” – Charles Bukowski

5. “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” – Charles Bukowski

6. “Life’s as kind as you let it be.”  – Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski quotes about life

7. “Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside – remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.” – Charles Bukowski

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8. “Somebody once asked me what my theory of life was, and I said, ‘Don’t try.’ That fits the writing, too. I don’t try; I just type.” – Charles Bukowski

9. “We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us.” – Charles Bukowski

10. “If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence.” – Charles Bukowski

11. “Some people never go crazy, What truly horrible lives they must live.” – Charles Bukowski

12. “People are strange: they are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice.” – Charles Bukowski

13. “Some people like what you do, some people hate what you do, but most people simply don’t give a damn.” – Charles Bukowski

14. “There are only two things wrong with money: too much or too little.” – Charles Bukowski

15. “Almost everybody is born a genius and buried an idiot.” – Charles Bukowski

16. “You have to die a few times before you can really live.” – Charles Bukowski

17. “An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.” – Charles Bukowski

18. “Real loneliness is not necessarily limited to when you are alone.” – Charles Bukowski

19. “There will always be something to ruin our lives, it all depends on what or which finds us first. We are always ripe and ready to be taken.” – Charles Bukowski

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20. “A love like that was a serious illness, an illness from which you never entirely recover.”  – Charles Bukowski

21. “I often carry things to read so that I will not have to look at the people.” – Charles Bukowski

22. “I don’t like the clean-shaven boy with the necktie and the good job. I like desperate men, men with broken teeth and broken minds and broken ways. They interest me. They are full of surprises and explosions.” – Charles Bukowski

Thought-provoking Charles Bukowski quotes

23. “I guess the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them.” – Charles Bukowski

24. “Bad taste creates many more millionaires than good taste.” – Charles Bukowski

25. “Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.” – Charles Bukowski

26. “Goodness can be found sometimes in the middle of hell.” – Charles Bukowski

27. “What a woman wants is a reaction. What a man wants is a woman.” – Charles Bukowski

28. “Sex is kicking death in the ass while singing.” – Charles Bukowski

29. “Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink.” – Charles Bukowski 

30. “The more cats you have, the longer you live. If you have a hundred cats, you’ll live 10 times longer than if you have 10. Someday this will be discovered, and people will have a thousand cats and live forever. It’s truly ridiculous.” – Charles Bukowski

31. “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” – Charles Bukowski

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32. “The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.” – Charles Bukowski

33. “Those who escape hell however never talk about it and nothing much bothers them after that.”  – Charles Bukowski

34. “People with no morals often considered themselves more free, but mostly they lacked the ability to feel or love.” – Charles Bukowski

35. “There is a loneliness in this world so great that you can see it in the slow movement of the hands of a clock.” – Charles Bukowski

36. “The shortest distance between two points is often unbearable.” – Charles Bukowski 

37. “We are like roses that have never bothered to bloom when we should have bloomed and it is as if the sun has become disgusted with waiting.”  – Charles Bukowski 

38. “You begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.” – Charles Bukowski 

Charles Bukowski quotes about writing

39. “When I say that basically writing is a hard hustle, I don’t mean that it is a bad life, if one can get away with it. It’s the miracle of miracles to make a living by the typer.” – Charles Bukowski

40. “In my work, as a writer, I only photograph, in words, what I see.” – Charles Bukowski

41. “It’s when you begin to lie to yourself in a poem in order to simply make a poem, that you fail.” – Charles Bukowski

42. “Sometimes I’ve called writing a disease. If so, I’m glad that it caught me.” – Charles Bukowski

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43. “Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.” – Charles Bukowski

44. “If I stop writing I am dead. And that’s the only way I’ll stop: dead.” – Charles Bukowski

45. “Writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers.” – Charles Bukowski

46. “I kept writing not because I felt I was so good, but because I felt they were so bad, including Shakespeare, all those. The stilted formalism, like chewing cardboard.” – Charles Bukowski

47. “When I write, when I’m going hot, I don’t want to write more than four hours in a row. After that, you’re pushing it.” – Charles Bukowski

48. “My days, my years, my life has seen up and downs, lights and darknesses. If I wrote only and continually of the ‘light’ and never mentioned the other, then as an artist, I would be a liar.” – Charles Bukowski

49. “Those who have been writing literature have not been writing life.” – Charles Bukowski

50. “Without literature, life is hell.”  – Charles Bukowski

When’s the last time you’ve written something down? 

Much of Charles Bukowski’s work is inspired by the everyday life of his hometown: Los Angeles. Bukowski’s work shines among others because he refuses to forget the lifestyle that he grew up in. He finds life lessons within his turmoils and uses those experiences to connect with others. 

To better work through your own experiences, why not try journaling? Just setting aside a few minutes of journaling a day can bring many positive effects, including reduced stress and anxiety. 

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What powerful Charles Bukowski quote above would you want to share with a friend? Are there any other writers that Everyday Power should showcase? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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