Excited for: The Hatred of Poetry

I just ordered the book The Hatred of Poetry (US) (CA) (UK) by Ben Lerner.


From the description of the book:

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 inextricable in ways it is my purpose to explore.”

In this inventive and lucid essay, Lerner takes the hatred of poetry as the starting point of his defense of the art.

The book sounds incredibly interesting to me, and I really can’t wait to get it in the post.

I wish that I could say I was familiar withLerner’s work, but I’ve never read a word that he has written.  There is certainly a part of me that is excited, and hopeful, that discovering Lerner’s work for the first time will be a thrill.

I shall post things here after the book arrives and I’ve started to read it.


Mary Oliver on the radio

My last post was about the work of the American Poet Mary Oliver, who is one of my favorite poets.  Mary Oliver does not do many interviews, she never has.  Be that as it may there is one interview with Mary Oliver that was done by On Being (The really NPR great show done by Krista Tippett).  I figured it would be nice to post a link to the show for those who have not heard it.

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I highly recommend listening to the unedited (i.e. longer) version of the interview!

Dogfish — So much done with so little…

I’m sitting in my parked car, about to head to a meeting, and because I’m early I’ve decided to read some poetry by Mary Oliver on my phone. (I don’t know how Mary Oliver would feel about her poems being read on a phone screen…. part of me suspects she would not approve.)

I was reading the poem DOGFISH in the collection Dream Work (US) (CA) (UK).
I read the following, and then stopped. I laughed a bit as the lines sunk into my conscious mind.

Earlier in the same poem was this line. I liked it a ton, but it did. It make me laugh.

Both of these are great examples of how a good prom (good writing really) can do so much with so very little.

The Poetry of Stephen Dunn

There is lots of bad poetry, and I think that can make people forget that there is also good poetry.  The poetry of Stephen Dunn is great poetry.  Take for instance the following words, and the impact they have:


She said to her friend: I want

all the fire one can have

without being consumed by it.


To be without some of the things

you want, a wise man said,

is an indispensable part of happiness.

I was going to comment on these words, but after reflecting on that idea I’ve decided to just let them speak to you in whatever way they speak to you, free of my own subjective experience of making them mean something to me.

I will say that I hope you read more of Stephen Dunn’s poems.

Both of the quoted lines above come from the prom The Snowmass Cycle.  The rest of that poem can be read here.  I originally read it in New and Selected Poems 1974-1994.  Links to buy said book: (CA) (US) (UK).