Although his arguments are hampered by summary judgments and blind spots, Lerner often writes with flair. The avant-garde, he offers, “hates existing poems because they are part of a bankrupt society.” Consequently, an avant-garde poem is “an imaginary bomb with real shrapnel…. a weapon against received ideas of what art is.” Lerner, who considers himself an avant-gardist, stresses that poets aren’t alone in hating poetry. He criticizes journalists who denounce poems for failing “to be universal, to speak both to and for everyone in the manner of Whitman.” This is true, but Lerner has written a Denounciad of his own that allows poets no alternative to anyone’s hatred. His assault on the populist premise that poets should aspire to reach a wide audience is relentless, and he remains hostage to it. It’s as though he’s admonishing a child for believing in the tooth fairy, and with each reprimand the fantasy is revived.