Angle of Yaw

Ben Lerner, Author . Copper Canyon $15 (127p) ISBN 978-1-55659-246-1

Employing the language of aphorism, advertising, parable, personal essay, political tirade, journalism and journal, the collage-like poems of Lerner's second collection express the ennui of American life in an era when even war feels like a television event. Two sequences of untitled prose poems weave public and private discourse, yielding often absurd yet frighteningly accurate observations: "We have willingly suspended our disbelief on strings in order to manipulate it from above"; "Some child actors have never been off camera"; "The right to have it both ways is inalienable or it isn't." Punctuating the prose are three extended free verse pieces, including "Didactic Elegy," a self-conscious, heady meditation on the collapse of the World Trade towers that is equal parts logic-proof, art criticism and subtle indictment of American mourning for 9/11: "The first men and women to be described as heroes were in the towers./ To call them heroes, however, implies that they were willing to accept their deaths." A handful of the more fragmentary poems in this long collection lack the satisfying associative logic and punch that characterize the best of these, and could have been omitted, but overall this collection places Lerner (The Lichtenberg Figures , 2004) among the most promising young poets now writing. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 07/31/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
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Ebook - 80 pages - 978-1-61932-008-6
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