The Hatred of Poetry

The Hatred of Poetry

Book - 2016 | Hardcover edition.
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Novelist and poet Ben Lerner argues that our hatred of poetry is ultimately a sign of its continued relevance.

Poetry. Perhaps Marianne Moore said it best: "I, too, dislike it." What other art takes its marginality as a given, and is so widely bemoaned even by its practitioners? Ben Lerner writes, "Many more people agree they hate poetry than can agree what poetry is. I, too, dislike it and have largely organized my life around it and do not experience that as a contradiction because poetry and the hatred of poetry are inextricable in ways it is my purpose to explore."

In this inventive and plain-spoken essay, Lerner takes the hatred of poetry as the starting point of his defence of the art. He examines both poetry's greatest haters (beginning with Plato, who famously claimed that an ideal city had no place for poets, who would only corrupt and mislead the young) and its greatest practitioners, providing inspired close-readings of Keats, Dickinson, Whitman, and others. Throughout, he attempts to explain the noble failure at the heart of every poem: the impulse to launch the experience of an individual into a timeless, communal existence. In The Hatred of Poetry , Lerner has crafted an entertaining, personal, and entirely original examination of a vocation no less essential for being impossible.
Publisher: [Toronto] : McClelland & Stewart, 2016.
Edition: Hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9780771048258
Branch Call Number: 808.1 Lerne
Characteristics: 86 pages ; 20 cm

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modestgoddess
Jan 05, 2017

This was a fascinating read. Somehow I'd thought I was getting a poetry collection by Ben Lerner (why doesn't the library have one?!) - instead I cracked this and discovered a thoughtful, intelligent, meaty essay on poetry. Totally absorbing and real brain food. Loved it. Gave an excellent perspective on poetry that made sense to me - though I wouldn't say that I, too, dislike it...! (although some poetry I definitely do dislike - but not poetry in general - and there are poems I love. But Lerner makes some excellent points about how society approaches poets and poetry - and a good argument for why it can never succeed - but also why poets will/should always continue to try)

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zoemulford
Sep 14, 2016

Interesting and quick read. Would be much better though if written by somebody with an actual love and appreciation for his own craft. This is not necessarily a book explaining and breaking down why so many people hate poetry, but instead more a book about why the author, a poet himself, hates poetry. It doesn't get at the actual issue and topic here, which would be much more interesting.

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