Four Poets of the Gutter

The streets are cleaner these days. They don’t sing miserable, sad songs like they used to.

The gritty poets who painted their pages with a bruised eloquence just don’t seem to get the proper attention they deserve. I’ve been thinking about four great authors who wrote about the broken, the desperate and the damaged with a hard-knuckled yet sympathetic grace. Do yourself a favor, and read the works penned by these four poets of the gutter.

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Goodis’ books were more like suicide notes than pulp narratives

‘The pavement was terribly cold and the wet wind from the river came blasting into their faces. But it didn’t bother them. They sat there passing the bottle around, and there was nothing that could bother them, nothing at all.’ – Street of No Return, David Goodis

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Iceberg Slim – pimp turned prose

‘Loudmouth hoodlum winds lunged across the Chicago heavens and muscled away a mob of sooty clouds. Frosty stars suddenly spangled the black Caddie that cruised the snow-gutted ghetto.’ – Death Wish, Iceberg Slim

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Algren in the Neon Wilderness

‘We used to stand reveille in Wales with the smoke from the mess hall blowing into the rain. In the east the sky would be torn with light, like a sky going pleasantly insane. With a particular sort of savagery in the way the orderly-room wires cut blindly across it.’ – that’s the way it’s always been, Nelson Algren

NPG x87653; Robin Cook by Marc Atkins

Existential crime in Thatcher’s London

‘His head had been battered in below the hairline and brains had slopped down his left cheek into the mud. I got the impression, though, that despite his injuries he hadn’t died at once. In the dull eyes there was still a flicker of some memory that he meant to take with him wherever he was going.’ – He Died with His Eyes Open, Derek Raymond

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2 comments

  1. Beautiful article man. Great content. I have to agree, and go further and say poetry’s content is on a “blissful” decline. I say blissful, because it is what the readers and writers want. The decay, and calling it such, is just a matter of opinion. Keep at it brother. Cheers!

    -Jeremiah Walton, Gatsby’s Abandoned Children

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