Because Ange nearly demanded it, I offer a list of unjustified and in some cases apparently unmotivated likes and dislikes, compiled, in part, while sitting in Greater Boston Area traffic. Make of it what you will. (There may be more to come, depending on future traffic.)
J'aime (partial list): Game Theory (the band); white stripes (not the band); Jenny Toomey; basketball (even the men's game), baseball, when discussed by ardent fans; the feijoa (still my favorite fruit), and more recently the mamey sapote, the monstera, and the Honeycrisp apple, invented in Minnesota...


J'aime, in addition, most ferrets; all cats; all of Keats; all of Herrick; all of Briggflatts, even the parts I don't understand; complete sentences; camisoles; avowedly partisan volunteer political analysts; lavender, magenta, scarlet, sage green, silver-grey, and lapis blue, along with some other deep blues; freehand drawing; perfectly crafted young-adult novels; IKEA; most clothes-shopping; all of George Eliot; all of Richard Powers except Gold Bug; The Wings of the Dove; cheap fine-point pens and narrow-ruled paper; allspice, mace and sumac; the Periodic Table of the Elements.
Je n'aime pas: game theory (not the band); White Stripes (the band); Pat Toomey; American football; baseball, when I am expected to watch a whole game; bananas, mashed potatoes and nectarines; small yappy dogs; much of Crashaw; much of Shelley; punctuation, in poems, that wouldn't make sense in prose; men's suits, at least on me; supposedly nonpartisan political commentators; dark or drab greens that appear to me as gray, and vice versa (I seem to be colorblind w/r/t these few hues); contempt for any art form as a whole (e.g. when people are proud that they never watch television-- you don't have to watch television if you don't want to, and it may not be worth your time to do so, but don't pretend that it can never, ever be art); most tracings, rubbings and decalcomanias; Home Depot; most furniture-shopping; The Gold Bug Variations; White Noise; The Bostonians (the only novel I've been required to read more than once that I hated both times); fine-pen snobbery; high-end milk chocolate; and the Second Law of Thermodynamics... but there's not much I can do about that last one, and not much you can do, either, in the long run.

Originally Published: October 7th, 2007

Stephanie (also Steph; formerly Stephen) Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. In 2012, the New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of [her] generation.” Burt grew up around Washington, DC and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale. She has published four collections of poems: Advice...

  1. October 8, 2007
     Ange

    Ah, the honeycrisp apple - it's a revelation isn't it?
    But high end milk chocolate? Now truly we have hit upon the Barthesian "intimidation of the body." I must suffer your incomprehensible dislike!

  2. October 9, 2007
     Steve

    I forgot to say that half the time I'm alllergic to high end milk chocolate (because it contains hazelnut traces). Dark chocolate? White chocolate? Those I can do.

  3. October 9, 2007
     Levi Stahl

    Hmm. I love the Herrick I've read but hate IKEA; love the George Eliot I've read but find the Honeycrisp too sweet. Does that mean I should read the rest of Herrick and Eliot, or have I read just enough and any more will risk finding stuff to dislike? This is tough.

  4. October 10, 2007
     Ange

    Steve, did you find, doing this exercise, that the concrete and the abstract -- and "feeling" vs. "thinking" -- become less meaningful categories?
    Just wondering if the distinctions are really that meaningful in poetry, either.

  5. October 12, 2007
     Don Share

    Steve (who's actually across the river from me now at the ALSC conference (see his acronymical post here) -
    In the October 25th issue of The New York Review of Books, Poet Laureate of the US Charles Simic kicks of a review of Robert Creeley's two-volume collected poems (which he doesn't care for) with this quote from R.C."--
    "I loved Herrick. I loved the scale and deftness of his sounds. I loved, what little I knew of Campion.... I loved the so-called Jacobeans, I mean, really a kind of hip mournfulness I really thought was great"
    [Creeley in conversation with Alan Riach, recorded at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealong, 7/26/1995, available here.
    I can't wait to see your genealogy tracing Creeley back to Housman: maybe Herrick and Campion figure as missing links....