Lerner starts this book-length essay with a reading of the perhaps the most famous piece of writing about poetry, from the poem "Poetry" by Marianne Moore, which reads, in its entirety:
I, too, dislike it.
***Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for
it, one discovers in
***it, after all, a place for the genuine.
This poem is the perfect starting point for the examination of the culture-wide contempt toward poetry, but also the ironic respect, deference, and revulsion with which we treat poets. Drawing on the work of Caedmon, Emily Dickinson, and Amiri Baraka, Ben Lerner proves himself a delightful guide through literary history and argument.