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The Hatred of Poetry

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,396 Ratings  ·  230 Reviews
No art has been denounced as often as poetry. It's even bemoaned by poets: "I, too, dislike it," wrote Marianne Moore. "Many more people agree they hate poetry," Ben Lerner writes, "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 inextric ...more
Paperback, 86 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by FSG Originals
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Ariel
This was very very interesting. If you at all care about poetry I think you'd really enjoy it.
Adam Dalva
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Brisk little monograph that uses a smart frame - a look at the historical forces behind the hatred of poetry - as an excuse for Lerner to dig into a few preferred subjects. The book loses a bit of its conceit as it goes (by the time we are talking about Rankine's CITIZEN, there is virtually none of the original thesis left), so it has to be evaluated on the basis of the vignettes. I loved the section on horrible Scottish poet William McGonagall:

"Beautiful railway bridge of the silv'ry Tay
Alas! I
...more
Rebecca Foster
This fluid essay asks how poetry navigates between the personal and the universal. Socrates famously wanted to ban poets, fearing poetry might be turned to revolutionary purposes. Lerner wonders whether poetry still has a political role. Whitman’s goal was to create a new American verse style. But was it realistic for him to think that he could speak for everyone? The same might be asked about the poets who read at presidential inaugurations. Can different races and genders speak to and for each ...more
Ben Babcock
It’s with no regret, but some shame, that I admit I’m not a fan of poetry, and that I actively avoid teaching it. I use poems in my classes, when we’re talking about other subjects. But I avoid teaching the mechanics and technique of poetry, analyzing the metre and rhythm, looking into the intricacies of imagery and similes and repetition. I do this largely because, as a reader, I am not comfortable with poetry, and that translates then into my teaching.

I avoid poetry for the same reason I avoid
...more
Peter Landau
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It’s only in the last short number of years that I’ve been actively reading poetry. Before that, I thought it was impenetrable, that it’s secrets were locked behind a door which had no key. But, like most everything, I was wrong. Poetry is different than my beloved prose, even when prose stretches its wings and takes experimental flight. It’s not explanatory like an essay or philosophic text. Poetry speaks more to the space between what is known and what is unknown, and to inhabit this almost my ...more
Jim Coughenour
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetryforliving
If anything could make me hate poetry, it would be The Hatred of Poetry. Lerner's little book is ponderously dull, troubling itself about the impossible "universality" of the perfect poem – a paradox without piquancy.
You can only compose poems that, when read with perfect contempt, clear a place for the genuine Poem that never appears.
If there is a hateful way to approach poetry, this is surely it. I, too, dislike Poetry when it comes with a capital P.

Fortunately there are some bright moments am
...more
sevdah
I'm having such a hard time understanding poetry, especially lately (and especially contemporary Bulgarian poetry but that's a whole other topic). This whole journey of discovering what I enjoy in a text or in a language or in a book has left me thinking poetry is just not for me. Literary criticism, however, of any genre is straight up my alley, so I got this book knowing it won't change my taste but hoping it would be enjoyable. Which it was, I liked it a lot. The basic premise is this: we all ...more
Johan Thilander
På mitt bibliotek ansvarar jag för lyrikhyllan. Det var ett ansvarsområde jag bad om på min första arbetsdag, och de bästa arbetsdagar brukar kännetecknas av att jag lyckas rekommendera och låna ut en diktsamling till en intet ont anande låntagare. För det är svårt, poesi är något många människor undviker - eller som denna essä uttrycker det: de "fruktar sin egen oförmåga att bli berörd av poesi". Utmaningen som bibliotekarie blir därmed att övertala låntagarna att möta sina rädslor.

Denna bok pr
...more
Ammar
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
3.5

Ben Lerner takes us into a journey into poetry and why do we hate it. Do you hate it because we don't understand it ? Or just hate it because it is poetry ? He describes various personal observations and aspects in vignettes. A Thought provoking slim volume. A beautiful crafted essay.
Jeroen
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I. / Some people argue that the age of poetry is over, and that the capacity of speaking to the greater public in the poetic mode is now situated in the songwriter. Indeed, it is very likely that more people can quote from Bob Dylan than from Robert Frost (or from Dylan Thomas, for that matter). Yet how many people can quote a song from beginning to end – rote learning complete poems was a relatively common skill in previous centuries, after all. No, we don't think in songs, per se: we think in ...more
Claudia Putnam
Aug 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting meditation/expository essay on why we hate poetry, if we do. Which I don't. But I do teach poetry appreciation classes because many do. Lerner makes good points, mainly elaborating on Grossman's idea that poetry always falls short of its ideal. Because it attempts to express the ineffable, and words fail, it can't help but rouse ire. Any reader will sense the gap. It will frustrate everyone, its authors perhaps most of all.

From there, Lerner goes off onto several interesting tangent
...more
Lark Benobi
I enjoyed spending time with Ben Lerner's prose and I enjoyed getting to know his thoughts and even when he went off on a path where I didn't want to follow, I did follow, and was rewarded.

Even so this was so cussingly not the book I wanted to read. I don't hate poetry. So I guess I should have known this wasn't exactly my book. In fact I love poetry, whenever I discipline myself enough to read it. Even so I approach poetry the way a lot of people approach music, where they just listen to Death
...more
Emma Townshend
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this: like having a late night conversation with an incredibly smart friend who makes you feel cleverer too. Admittedly I did wake up the next morning and go, "What WAS Ben saying about the unachieved presence of the virtual poem within the poem? Did ANY of that actually make sense, or was he really, really drunk?" But his likeable, funny, intelligent grasp of all things (ranging from Poetical Dentists to Keats to the rollerskating aisle patrollers of The Topeka Hypermart) was imp ...more
Teresa Proença
"a Poesia nasce do desejo de superar o finito e o histórico - o mundo humano de violência e diferença - e de alcançar o transcendente ou o divino."
Vincent Scarpa
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“To derive your understanding of a word by watching others adjust to your use of it: Do you remember the feeling that sense was provisional and that two people could build around an utterance a world in which any usage signified? I think that’s poetry. And when I felt I finally mastered a word, when I could slide it into a sentence with a satisfying click, that wasn’t poetry anymore—that was something else, something functional within a world, not the liquefaction of its limits.”

One look at my "
...more
Artfulreader
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Cool. Iconoclastic. Readable.
Daniel
Jun 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
A lot of people, it seems, are interested in reading about why poetry is contemptible (it’s #1 on the Amazon sales list for poetry criticism). That’s a good thing, I take it—a sign of poetry’s vigor these days. But it’s really surprising—since Lerner’s poetry and his fiction have been lauded for their innovation—to discover that he builds his explanation of poetry’s abject fate around a creaky platform of neo-Platonic principles. Lerner’s neo-Romantic stance is dominated theoretically by his con ...more
Drew
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
5+ out of 5.

There is an inherent recognition in Lerner’s essay that the oft-repeated maxim of poetry being evident in every human mind is true. Yes, I would agree with him that it doesn’t make sense: every other art form requires some element of practice and natural talent. But poetry is itself an attempt, more than anything else, to express the inexpressible about being human – and so it may manifest itself as a moment when you’re stopped still by light dappling through trees across a fire esca
...more
Brendan
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just read the whole thing in a single sitting of a little over two hours.

I'm probably going to have to go back and reread parts of it in order to better formulate my thoughts, but for now I'm just happy that FSG decided to publish it as a standalone book. It safe to say it's a masterpiece of its kind (little book, big essay) and that it will help shape my thinking about what poetry is and isn't.

(Whoever edited and designed this book [ETA: closer inspection of the copyright page reveals the bo
...more
Magdelanye
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, lit-crit
Ben Lerner is a skillful contrarian and he uses his formidable cleverness to strip the negative of the negative of its negation and viola! the true positive essence is revealed.

Many more people agree that they hate poetry than can agree what poetry is. p6

This short volume, essentially a long essay with no breaks but with a phrase taken from the text in the middle of the outer margin on each page, is an onslaught of dazzling concepts so counter intuitive that when they begin to cohere into some k
...more
Bert
One has the right to say he dislikes a novel, hates a movie, or disagrees with a study or essay. But with poetry one has to be in line with the fellow readers, the people for whom the poem is written. In this essay Lerner tries to explain why one has to, and why this causes readers to disdain poetry. Lerner does this by swiping away the universality of a poem and reducing it back to the singularity it comes from - be it an individual experience, a feeling, a thought, desire, contempt, lack of sk ...more
Stephen
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, 5-star
Ben Lerner is at his best in this essay on that familiar feeling of "hating poetry." Not only is he a funny and affable stylist, but he also proves himself a brilliant reader of poetry (including Dickinson, Whitman, and Claudia Rankine).
Maddie (Heart Full Of Books)
5/9 for Hatred of Poetry Module.

Well, if the module is named after this book, I guess it was pretty important.
tortoise dreams
Apr 12, 2018 rated it liked it
A lengthy essay on the thesis that everyone is justified in hating poetry.

Book Review: The Hatred of Poetry just made me feel contrary. I don't hate poetry and while some poets may be misdirected, and some poems inscrutable, naturally the only proper and logical course is to hate the poets -- not poetry. Certainly poetry is often taught poorly. A few years ago I had the good fortune to teach an evening continuing-education class in poetry writing and it was rewarding for all of us. Housewives, f
...more
clarissa
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Uscire con l'intento di bere una birra e fare invece mattina perché non si riesce a smettere di cantare, a saltare le tracce, e si finisce per cantarci addosso album interi. Guidare fino casa con le luci e i colori di un'alba bellissima, con gli occhi stanchi e pesanti ma con una grande leggerezza addosso. Per me questa è poesia, la sento nei momenti che mi alleggeriscono, nelle persone che mi fanno sentire a posto con me stessa, nei sorrisi a lungo raggio.
Ecco cosa fa Ben Lerner in Odiare la p
...more
Tom Ewing
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A rather lovely short book - readable in an hour - which traces a history of disappointment in poetry among critics and poets themselves. Spoilers! Lerner does not actually hate poetry! And is only productively disappointed in it. He's also a fine reader and sharp critic - particularly good on American pundits' relationship to Walt Whitman and the inadequacy of universality, but the essay is crisp, funny, intelligent, and occasionally mean throughout. Highly recommended to readers and critics in ...more
Marcello S
Non indispensabile ma Ben è il mio grande amore e di suo si legge tutto senza fare troppe storie. [68/100]

L'unica cosa che chiedo a quanti odiano la poesia - e neanche a me piace - è di sforzarsi di rendere il loro disprezzo perfetto, e di prendere perfino in considerazione l'ipotesi di usarlo per costruire delle poesie, dove quel disprezzo non verrà affatto meno, ma si farà più profondo, e forse, (...) potrebbe arrivare a somigliare all'amore.
Inga Pizāne
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
Iesākumā – aizrāva un ievilka, bet uz beigām vairs nepavilka, nenoturēja interesi. Varbūt tādēļ, ka pārāk ilgi biju iepauzējusi ar šo grāmatu. Īsumā – autors caur analīzi, kāpēc cilvēki ienīst dzeju, to mēģina aizstāvēt. Galu galā – pats ir dzejnieks. :)
Ja kāds vēlas izlasīt, droši jautājiet, varu aizdot. :)
Laurent
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
★★★
Apologie en aanklacht tegelijk: Lerner vertrekt van zijn eigen 'haat' voor poëzie om te eindigen met een liefdevolle vervolmaking van deze minachting. Over het universele, het onmogelijke, het oorspronkelijke van de dichtkunst. Met veel citaten alsook een ode aan de Duitse komma ('/'). Erudiet, grappig, helder, snedig en verfrissend.

...more
Nissa
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book from the very start, but by the end of the book I was positively moved. It's hard to describe but I feel like my perception of the world was actually shifted, opened, broadened. Like the world I stood up in is a different world from the one I sat down in.
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Poetry Readers Ch...: The Hatred of Poetry 19 44 Mar 06, 2018 12:56PM  
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409 followers
Benjamin S. Lerner is an American poet, novelist, and critic. He was awarded the Hayden Carruth prize for his cycle of fifty-two sonnets, The Lichtenberg Figures. In 2004, Library Journal named it one of the year's twelve best books of poetry. The Lichtenberg Figures appeared in a German translation in 2010, for which it received the "Preis der Stadt Münster für internationale Poesie" in 2011, mak ...more
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“Poetry arises from the desire to get beyond the finite and the historical—the human world of violence and difference—and to reach the transcendent or divine. You're moved to write a poem, you feel called upon to sing, because of that transcendent impulse. But as soon as you move from that impulse to the actual poem, the song of the infinite is compromised by the finitude of its terms.” 1 likes
“All I ask the haters--and I, too, am one--is that they strive to perfect their contempt, even consider bringing it to bear on poems, where it will be deepened, not dispelled, and where, by creating a place for possibility and present absences (like unheard melodies), it might come to resemble love.” 1 likes
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