Dear Dispatches:

I got a smart phone and I’m finding it easier with that device to read on-line. So, I spent some time with Dispatches this morning in the Elysian café, my haunt. I read all of your dispatches, the piece on Ben Lerner’s book, and Sharon’s piece on Boldereff. I may have some comments on “the hatred of poetry”, but I’d like to do Ben Lerner the courtesy of reading his book first. La haine de la poésie was the title of a book by Bataille. It’s becoming a commonplace, I guess, like “poetry is dead”, but for me it relates to an ongoing and necessary relationship with the art or practice, and perhaps a better term for it would be “critique”, in the proper sense of that word, as in Henri Meschonnic’s Critique du rythme, for example, or Philippe Beck’s Contre un Boileau.

I think that we cited Philippe Beck in an early number of W magazine: “The hatred of poetry is the proper material of poetry.” This is from his Crude Marivaux, “A Muckheap Without Reason: Fifteen Theses on Poetry” translated by Kevin Nolan (2001). The other day I told my friend Paul Kelley, exiled for a few months in Delta, that I had advised some young writers that if they don’t hate poetry they should not be doing it. Paul reminded me that you can’t take that position without loving it deeply first. I realized that, yes, that’s the actual condition, and it’s called, in psychoanalytic terms, “ambivalence”. But “ambivalence toward poetry” doesn’t have quite the same shock value as “hatred of poetry”.