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The Hatred of Poetry


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In this accessible and revelatory essay, one of the hottest young writers in American takes the hatred of poetry as the starting point for his defence of the art.

About the Author

Ben Lerner was born in Kansas in 1979. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright, Guggenheim, Howard and MacArthur Foundations. His first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, won the 2012 Believer Book Award. His second novel, 10-04, was a finalist for the Folio Prize and was named one of the best books of 2014 by more than a dozen major publications. He has published three poetry collections- The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw (a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry), and Mean Free Path. Lerner is a professor of English at Brooklyn College.


'Lerner argues with the tenacity and the wildness of the vital writer and critic that he is. Each sentence of The Hatred of Poetry vibrates with uncommon and graceful lucidity; each page brings the deep pleasures of crisp thought, especially the kind that remains devoted to complexity rather than to its diminishment.' Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts 'This intriguing book is a defence of poetry and a defence of the denunciation of it. But in the end, it's a romance.' -- Stephen Romei Australian 'Swift and casually erudite...a vivid catalogue.' Age 'Lucid and engaging' and 'witty and wise...Lerner transcends the battles over poetry's proper provenance.' Saturday Paper 'Compelling and agile...Lerner shows a route to bring poetry out of godliness, to make it specific, dynamic, fertile.' Australian 'Mr. Lerner skates across this frozen lake of pique with delicate skill...The book achieves its goal in the most circuitous of ways: by its (lovely) last sentence, Mr. Lerner might get you longing for the satisfactions of the thing you're conditioned to loathe.' New York Times 'Lerner's lightness of touch is enviable: beyond his penchant for the amusing and suavely delivered paradox, he is a fine and funny reader...Illuminating and educative.' Monthly 'The Hatred of Poetry is one of the best denunciations of the genre of lyric poetry I have read-and one of the more intriguing defenses...it offers two for the price of one, and this is its insight.' Bookforum 'Lerner's brief, elegant treatise on what poetry might do and why readers might need it is the perfect length for a commute or a classroom assignment, clearing a space for both private contemplation and lively discussion.' STARRED Review, Publishers Weekly 'Under the force of this personal experience and the influence of his mentor Allen Grossman [Lerner] constructs an elegant argument to explain why poetry will always be a necessary disappointment, especially to those who most want it to succeed in being a universal art.' Conversation 'Lerner's style is light and assertive. He makes a successful illusion of an organic, probing discussion without workmanlike joins to be seen.' Cordite Poetry Review 'Hilarious, intelligent and original.' Otago Daily Times 'Ben Lerner's essay The Hatred of Poetry is a quick-witted, 86-page contemplation of the nature of poetry that is nothing short of a medical breakthrough for those who experience instant disorientation at the sight of verse. Through his musings on Whitman, Keats, McGonagall, Dickinson and American poets Marianne Moore, Lerner convinces his reader that a hatred of poetry is actually necessary for its contemplation. Give this little book a whirl and you may see your loathing of poetry strangely paired with a love for it.' Good Reading

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