The Hatred of Poetry

Farrar. Jun. 2016. 96p. ISBN 9780865478206. pap. $12; ebk. ISBN 9780374712334. LIT
With this book-length essay, novelist and poet Lerner (10:04; The Lichtenberg Figures) demonstrates that hating on poetry is reserved not only for critics—it is also the national pastime of poets. Reoccurring common criticisms are that poetry "is dead," "has died," and is in some declining state of insignificance. In the American tradition, the verses of Walt Whitman are usually thought of as the shining example of successful or good poetry. They are interpreted to contain a universal quality or truth that can be understood by any and all. However, Lerner argues that even Whitman's poems failed to achieve such a "poetic ideal" because no poem or poet can "be no one in particular in order to stand for everyone." He asserts that such contradictions are inherent and integral to the form and its social relation. People hold a certain reverence for the poet, even though most nonpoets are unaware of and unreceptive to the majority of lyrical works. Lerner reasons that the love/hate duality is innate to the Western tradition of poetry and that is as it should be.
VERDICT Recommended for anyone interested in poetry. [See Prepub Alert, 12/7/15.]
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