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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Edmundson’

The Hatred of Poetry: An Interview with Ben Lerner

June 30, 2016 | by


What do we want from poetry? To read a poem is, on some level, to loathe it—both poem and poet aspire to fulfill a set of impossible expectations from the culture. In his new book, The Hatred of Poetry, Ben Lerner argues that a disdain for poetry is inextricable from the art form itself. Earlier this month, Michael Clune spoke to Lerner at Greenlight Books, in Brooklyn. The exchange below is an edited version of that conversation. —Ed.


One of the most striking things you do in The Hatred of Poetry is to reorient our sense of value. Your canon is “the terrible poets, the great poets, and the silent poets,” as opposed to the merely good or the mediocre. You write about the worst poet in history, McGonagall, and his horrific masterpiece, or antimasterpiece, “The Tay Bridge Disaster”:

Beautiful railway bridge of the silv’ry Tay
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last sabbath day of 1879
Which will be remembered for a very long


Wikipedia says that he’s widely considered the worst poet ever. Read More »

On the Shelf

October 5, 2011 | by

Hans Christian Andersen.

A cultural news roundup.

  • Odds on the Nobel?
  • Harry Potter takes his show on the road.
  • But not his e-book.
  • The trouble with Amazon.
  • Bad news for independent bookstores.
  • And chain bookstores.
  • In praise of the Farmers’ Almanac.
  • Hans Christian Andersen to be buried, again.
  • Volume 12 of  Selected Works of Kim Jong-il hits the shelves.
  • “That American culture could bring forth so relentless a critic is perhaps one of the reasons to still think well of it.”
  • A visit to southeast London.
  • Advice for students: “To get an education, you’re probably going to have to fight against the institution that you find yourself in—no matter how prestigious it may be. (In fact, the more prestigious the school, the more you’ll probably have to push.) You can get a terrific education in America now—there are astonishing opportunities at almost every college—but the education will not be presented to you wrapped and bowed. To get it, you’ll need to struggle and strive, to be strong, and occasionally even to piss off some admirable people.”