Looking for the best Charles Bukowski quotes and sayings? We’ve compiled a list of the top 50 most inspiring Bukowski quotes on life, love, happiness, failure, passion and more.

Top 50 Charles Bukowski Quotes

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

2. “I wanted the whole world or nothing.”

3. “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.”

4. “How the hell could a person enjoy being awakened at 6:30AM, by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?”

5. “No light goes out until it goes out. Let’s fight as men, not rats. Period.”

6. “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.”

7. “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.”

8. “If I stop writing I am dead. And that’s the only way I’ll stop: dead.”

9. “If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence.”

10. “Some people never go crazy, What truly horrible lives they must live.”

11. “Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”

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

13. “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.”

14. “It’s better to do a dull thing with style than a dangerous thing without it.”

15. “I guess the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them.”

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

17. “If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”

18. “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”

19. “There are only two things wrong with money: too much or too little.”

20. “Almost everybody is born a genius and buried an idiot.”

21. “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.”

22. “Bad taste creates many more millionaires than good taste.”

23. “I would be married, but I’d have no wife, I would be married to a single life.”

24. “In my work, as a writer, I only photograph, in words, what I see.”

25. “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”

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

27. “It’s possible to love a human being if you don’t know them too well.”

28. “Hey baby, when I write, I’m the hero of my shit.”

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

30. “Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.”

31. “Goodness can be found sometimes in the middle of hell.”

32. “You have to die a few times before you can really live.”

33. “An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”

34. “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.”

35. “If you get married they think you’re finished and if you are without a woman they think you’re incomplete.”

36. “Of course it’s possible to love a human being if you don’t know them too well.”

37. “What a woman wants is a reaction. What a man wants is a woman.”

38. “I remember awakening one morning and finding everything smeared with the color of forgotten love.”

39. “Sex is kicking death in the ass while singing.”

40. “Pain is strange. A cat killing a bird, a car accident, a fire…. Pain arrives, BANG, and there it is, it sits on you. It’s real. And to anybody watching, you look foolish. Like you’ve suddenly become an idiot. There’s no cure for it unless you know somebody who understands how you feel, and knows how to help.”

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

42. “This is very important – to take leisure time. Pace is the essence. Without stopping entirely and doing nothing at all for great periods, you’re gonna lose everything…just to do nothing at all, very, very important. And how many people do this in modern society? Very few. That’s why they’re all totally mad, frustrated, angry and hateful.”

43. “Writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers.”

44. “Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually clean kitchen, and 8 times out of 9 I’ll show you a man with detestable spiritual qualities.”

45. “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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

49. “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.”

50. “Those who have been writing literature have not been writing life.”


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