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Ben Lerner
(Poet)
[February 4, 1979 - ]

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Profile created September 15, 2009
Updated November 9, 2009
Poetry
  • Angle of Yaw (2006) -- Finalist 2006 National Book Award
    In his bold second book, Ben Lerner molds philosophical insight, political outrage, and personal experience into a devastating critique of mass society. Angle of Yaw investigates the fate of public space, public speech, and how the technologies of viewing-aerial photography in particular-feed our culture an image of itself. And it's a spectacular view.

    The man observes the action on the field with the tiny television he brought to the stadium. He is topless, painted gold, bewigged. His exaggerated foam index finger indicates the giant screen upon which his own image is now displayed, a model of fanaticism. He watches the image of his watching the image on his portable TV on his portable TV. He suddenly stands with arms upraised and initiates the wave that will consume him.

    Haunted by our current "war on terror," much of the book was written while Lerner was living in Madrid (at the time of the Atocha bombings and their political aftermath), as the author steeped himself in the history of Franco and fascism. Regardless of when or where it was written, Angle of Yaw will further establish Ben Lerner as one of our most intriguing and least predictable poets.

  • The Lichtenberg Figures (2004)
    The Lichtenberg Figures, winner of the Hayden Carruth Award, is an unconventional sonnet sequence that interrogates the relationship between language and memory, violence and form. "Lichtenberg figures" are fern-like electrical patterns that can appear on (and quickly fade from) the bodies of people struck by lightning.

    Throughout this playful and elegiac debut-with its flashes of autobiography, intellection, comedy, and critique-the vocabulary of academic theory collides with American slang and the idiom of the Old Testament meets the jargon of the Internet to display an eclectic sensibility.

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