Sometimes, Oxford feels like someone has hit you in the face with a squash racket. I use this rather specific analogy because I myself have just hit someone in the face with a squash racket. It was for research purposes of course (my days of cage fighting and criminal damage were left far behind after I joined secondary school) but that doesn’t make the guilt, and the feeling of shame, any better. Hitting someone is meant to feel good, right? Letting out all that excess aggression and releasing the animal inside? Well, I nobly took it upon myself to test this theory, for the good of Cherwell, and I can conclusively say it doesn’t work – it just loses you friends. Try it yourself. If you’re in the room with someone, calmly turn and punch them in the face, and say “the Cherwell told me to do it.” It doesn’t feel cathartic at all, does it?

“But what else are we going to do?” I hear you cry. (I don’t know why you’re crying it – pull yourself together.) How else are we going to let out all that tutorial-built anger and frustration, all that library-massed energy and raw fury? Well, never fear, I have the answer. Instead of hitting someone in the face with a racket (trust me, it doesn’t work – I’ve tried), read poetry instead. And read Charles Bukowski in particular. Bukowski was one of the most rough, rude renegade poets to ever pick up a sex worker – based in Los Angeles, his work focuses on the lives of poor americans, alcohol, failed relationships, and the drudgery of life. It doesn’t get much more raw than that. “It was on my fifth joint/ That I realised/ I’d left the hooker standing on the street outside.” Steady on Charles, maybe you need a quiet lie down…

Notice by Charles Bukowski

The swans drown in bilge water,

Take down the signs, 

Test the poisons,

flog the backs of saints, 

stun frogs and mice for the cat,

Burn the enthralling paintings,

piss on the dawn,

My love

Is dead.

For sheer brutality, no one comes close to Bukowski. The short, razor-like quality of the sentences, that finally break up in the last lines. The way the list just gets darker and darker. It’s so utterly, beautifully, wonderfully bleak. Who needs the chance to accidentally hit a friend in the face with a squash racket? Just turn to Charles Bukowski instead – he expresses it so much better.

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