Read Angle of Yaw by Ben Lerner Online


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 theIn 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....

Title : Angle of Yaw
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781556592461
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 127 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Angle of Yaw Reviews

  • Joe
    2019-03-21 13:08

    The most entertaining thing about Lerner is how he's able to use recursive forms to work through the politicized contemporary world we live in. This to me seems the most inherent thing to note about the book. "Begetting Stadia" seem to be sonetesque variations; "Angle of Yaw" are the prose poem blocks; "Didactic Elegy" consists almost entirely of quatrains; "Twenty-One Gun Salute for Ronald Regan" composed of 9 line stanzas with closing couplets; All of which (with the arguable exception of the prose poems) have lines that end in terminal punctuation(mostly). This seems to suggest that the poems of Lerner are unable, for the most part, to move past their individual lines, their frames/forms. We experience the autonomy of a line much more specifically if it is terminally punctuated, it can't go on, we have to deal with it as singular despite it's stanzaic metonymy. But his wit and humor are punctuated by the placement of lines next to each other, as others have noted, in fact it depends on the ridiculous and truth of this placement.It seems to me the list I've used for the title are some, note some, of the "anchors" of this work. Indeed all of these things seem to evoke a sense of violence, unease, tension, action, and questions of worth. My favorite lines from the first read(this summer, not this week) "You are the first and last indigenous Nintendo." "The child makes a substantial advancement in poetics / with a can of hairspray and a Bic."In the second reading, I was drawn to other lines: "The value of hope is that it has no use value. / Hope is the saddest of formalisms"(65). This seems eerily significant in lieu of recent political developments. Also: "Even in death, the old debate between / depth and surface: some poets attach weights to their ankles, others just / float facedown. What is the value of reading? Depends. What is it keep-/ing you from doing?(101). Obviously we're again dealing with depth and surface, but we're also talking about authorial intent, the deep weight to ankles intent, or the floating surface intent. Most importantly either way you die; reading then necessitates the death of authors, and in reading we are not killing ourselves, perhaps. And even complicated further: "The president's statement is meaningless / unless to be American means to embrace one's death, / which is possible"(63). So the American author must die... according to Learner, our (ex)president.Lastly Lerner seems to be working Adorno fairly heavily here, no? And this book makes me depressed because I feel like Learner is asking what's next in poetry(art) quite elegantly and as poet I don't know how to attempt to accomplish anything better than "Yaw", let alone as good."The meaninglessness of the drawing is therefore meaningfuland the failure to seek out value is heroic.Is this all that remains of poetry?Ignorance that sees itself is elegy."I feel like I've been reduced to four lines of verse.From "Twenty-one Gun Salute for Ronald Regan":"The child makes a substantial advancement in poeticswith a canister of spray and a Bic."

  • Peycho Kanev
    2019-02-23 11:14

    Sometimes I feel that even Ben Lerner doesn't know what Ben Lerner is writing about. But, you know, ...Modernist!

  • Scott Hammer
    2019-03-02 06:20

    Appeals to the head, definitely not the heart, though there are some incredibly arresting phrases. Lerner's intelligence and ability to turn theory into a poem that mocks, at a slight distance, theory, is impressive. This collection is largely about how and why we see. It's brilliant.

  • Peter Landau
    2019-03-03 06:21

    What does poetry mean could be expanded to ask, What does anything mean? That’s a good question for some, but with me definitions erase the experience and replace it with something else. You got to have definitions, just as you have to have stories to process life, but never forget it’s all an artful fabrication. Reading ANGLE OF YAW by Ben Lerner I was brought up to that wall partitioning me from meaning and mistakenly tried to climb it. Occasionally, like when a more topical line popped up, something about 9/11, say, it steered the point of the poem to make me think: This means something. And of course it does. But why parse the piece to bits when the poet spent so much time and effort to put it together just right? My quixotic quest for significance, for a link to current events or a great theme, was lost in the reading. The text is a collage of colloquialisms in new context that is invigorating by itself. There’s a longer poem about Ronald Reagan, which may be the closest approximation of what it was like to live in that scary time. But only if you read it. I went back to cherry pick some of the many lines that made me laugh and think and just admire the intelligence of its assemblage, but I couldn’t pull them from their pages, because then they’d be meaningless.

  • Nicola
    2019-03-02 12:05

    I am still wrapping my coiled brain around this strange elegy and anti-elegy, depiction and the problematics of depiction, direction and deviation, the propaganda of fear and fear of propaganda, humor and despair, and so much more. But I appreciate how many directions Lerner forces my mind to go; how many angles he creates. It's fascinating and eerie how his absurd depictions and rhetoric have such authority. It makes me wonder how aliens do or will react to hearing Chuck Berry on a gold record among other equations. It also makes me wonder how humans actually still believe in slogans and political rhetoric. I can understand how some readers might dislike how caught in the mind this book feels, but such intense intellectualism ultimately has emotional resonance. You can feel the repression and its uncanny results. The last line begs the question of how well are we recording and witnessing the tragedies that afflict us, not only literally but also emotionally.

  • Travis
    2019-03-16 10:08

    Really a mixed bag here, as most poetry books are. Certain lines are lightning & thunder but there's this huge, unavoidable cloud of annoying drizzle and punchlines that you have to walk through. Very, very contemporary & American. I mean that as praise, critique and simple truth -- "Is this all that remains of poetry? Ignorance that sees itself as elegy."I'm glad he's going for it though, wrestling with the form & putting work out there. The prose-poems are reminiscent of Czeslaw Milosz's ABCs & early Andrei Codrescou. Recommended.

  • Heather June Gibbons
    2019-03-10 13:27

    I am not the sort of reader that devours this kind of work. It's not my usual cup of tea. But I found myself drawn in by the complex modulation of tone here, and the deft mix of humor, politics, irony, despair, intellect, and so forth. This isn't a book with much music to it, though, but perhaps that befits its aim. This is not embodied work so much as polyphonous body politic or some such. Gave me lots to think about, and I found myself digging the rhythms of it, if not the sounds themselves.

  • Mary K
    2019-02-28 09:11

    "A surgery to abridge the body. A reader-friendly body presented to the public. The public depends from a well-regulated militia. Our army, too, has its required reading. A soldier must read Tolstoy's War (abr.), Dostoyevsky's Crime (abr.). Even in death, the old debate between depth and surface: some poets attach weights to their ankles, others just float facedown. What is the value of reading? Depends. What is it keeping you from doing?" p.101

  • Eric T. Voigt
    2019-02-23 11:03

    Two lines that because they are in this book mean you should read this book: "When we found eyes in the hospital Dumpster, we decided to build the most awesome snowman ever." (found on page 93) "My visit to the dermatologist possessed a nightmarish quality." (found on page 125) Lerner: America's #1 son.

  • Patrick
    2019-03-18 12:10

    Three stars. One additional star rewarded for the luminosity behind "Angels are absences in the snow, visible only from above. When it thaws they will stand up and search for the children they have known."

  • Didi Chang-Park
    2019-03-23 07:18


  • Antonio Delgado
    2019-03-15 11:11

    Poems/prose full of literary theory and criticism without falling into a single -ism.

  • Nat
    2019-03-18 06:20

    Some beautiful stand-alone lines, but the poems themselves fall flat. They seem isolated, as if they were moments in a novel that never came to fruition.

  • Fabio Cazzulani
    2019-03-16 10:09

    Capito niente. Sembra uno scherzo...

  • Robert Beveridge
    2019-03-21 13:20

    Ben Lerner, Angle of Yaw (Copper Canyon, 2006)I'm not entirely sure what I can say about Angle of Yaw that has not already been said dozens of times over, and I believe that's the first time I've ever said anything of the sort about a book of poetry. Angle of Yaw has become a bona fide poetry-world sensation, appearing on any number of best-of-the-decade lists and inspiring outright awe in critics and readers alike. Given such a buildup, I went into it with my skeptical loins girded, but aside from one misstep, Angle of Yaw actually lives up to the hype.Finding a piece of this book to quote is next to impossible, as I kept seeing quotable pieces. Page after page after page of them. Almost every bit of this book is well-done, so I ended up just opening to a random page:“People with all manner of phobia, a fear of heights or crowds or marketplaces, public speaking or blood or prime numbers, have been known to overcome their panic by wearing glasses, not with corrective lenses, but with lenses of plain shatterproof plastic, which not only impose a mediate plane between them and the object of their fear, but apply a comforting pressure to the bridge of the nose. When you encounter a person seized by terror, softly squeeze this bony structure, and he will be instantaneously subdued. In an age of contact lenses and laser surgery, it is safe to assume that a person who persists in wearing glasses in undergoing treatment.”(—”Angle of Yaw”)All the hallmarks of what make so much of Lerner's stuff so good are there, the unexpected juxtapositions, the humor, the rhythm, the absurdity of it all. The book is divided into five sections, three longer poems (“longer” here meaning a few pages), with sections two and four being halves of “Angle of Yaw”, a large collection of the short pieces of which you see an example above. (It is representative of the style of pieces to be found there, both in structure and in quality.) The first two “other” poems are also very good, with the book's sole misstep being the last, “Twenty-One Gun Salute for Ronald Reagan”. Lerner is a political poet, but throughout the rest of the book he keeps it subtle and funny, not letting it get in the way of his considerable poetic talent; the Reagan poem, on the other hand, just falls flat, listless, overtaken by the weight of the message Lerner is so obviously straining to get across. But if you ignore that last piece, though, this is a fantastic book, one likely to make my 25 best reads of the year list. ****

  • i!
    2019-03-13 10:11

    No doubt Lerner is one of the more technically proficient contemporary poets that I'm aware of, but Angle of Yaw's whole aesthetic seems to rest awfully close to David Foster Wallace's, minus any social engagement that you see in the latter's work. Most of the faults here are John Barth's, so it becomes kind of a retrograde DFWallacian affair, as if Wallace'd never written his early fiction and had never wrestled with the issues of metafiction, but inherits all of the graceless faux-academic tinniness of Wallace's prose. Plus a lot of it is a lot less clever than it thinks it is: "My best friend went to Mexico and all I got was this lousy elegy" (88), "Note to self: don't publish this" (94), "I propose truth to be reached by continuing dialectic/I disagree," etc. None of this would be a huge issue elsewhere, but so much of this book trades on cleverness that a hole here and there add up quickly, and I felt that they did.That all being said, I enjoyed a lot of the shorter pieces for what they were; "Child Actors" has a great line in which any set that is built will invariably have a child actor descend its stairs. "A Large Group of Picnicking Children" ends in another finely-crafted image, "We Dream of Rain" includes an image of rain falling up from a few feet off the ground which you can crawl under and watch. Great stuff. I think my favorite of the whole collection was "Even From Above."As for the two proper (the first is more of an introduction that a piece on its own, whose phrase is finished in a later shorter piece) longer poems, I feel that "Didactic Elegy" is one of the better pieces here, but "Twenty One Gun Salute for Ronald Reagan" seems like a parody of Lerner's shorter pieces: more jagged and non sequitur than average—where "Didactic Elegy" feels systematic, "Ronald Reagan" just feels random and exhausting.

  • Eric Phetteplace
    2019-02-27 11:15

    tons of prose poems from someone who must've read Baudrillard. So far it's so-so, just drearily postmodern without accessing insights or promoting new valuations. The lack of linear connection between lines also just wasn't executed well, they end up stumbling over each other rather than creating interesting contrasts or weaving a coherent web.***coming back to this after seeing that people here on Goodreads like this book so much. I don't. The obsession with reading & signification gives me the typical anti-postmodern twinge and makes me hope that Speculative Realism destroys this sort of incestuous drivel. The obsession with God ended years ago; now is the time to replace God with new values, which we should've done decades ago (too bad Nietzsche died while writing "The Will to Power", he could've helped us out). The whole "mocking theory through theory" strikes me as just as worthless as constantly talking about the beauty of roses and women as in romantic poetry. If the terms are stale, discard them and create anew, don't try to recycle them in an interesting way. Lastly, what formal innovation there is here is destroyed by repetition; all the poems are too long and there's far too many similarly-toned prose poems. Once you've read ten of them, you've read them all.However, the line "Last year alone, every American died from choking on a red balloon" is hilarious. It's been awhile since poetry made me laugh out loud.

  • Jaclyn
    2019-03-17 10:22

    I decided to read this book again recently. "Angle of Yaw" is one of my favorites. Ben Lerner is fantastic at providing an idea and then developing that idea or topic in unexpected and innovative ways. Lerner is precise and economical in his work, as well as imaginative in his language to communicate the insight he offers as a writer. It would seem as though he has learned, understood (on a larger level), and committed to memory all of which he presents in this book, and is sharing it with readers in such a way that they will have to calculate and experience the works for their own outcome. Something important to notice in Lerner’s book is that at times his language is mathematical and calculating in its observations and statements of the world. The voice of his prose and poetry, allows for the reader to come to the conclusions that he has laid out, by the form he presents them in. However, that is not to say that he is giving the reader an understanding. Rather he is laying the ground work that is necessary in order to arrive at what is destined. Lerner is somewhat ambiguous in his language, but not so much that the reader is confused. This one is a bit of a challenge, but beautiful in its outcome and definitely worth a read.

  • S.D. Johnson
    2019-03-10 06:18

    Really appreciated these... Like the Bang poems I read I had some reservations but loved them so didn't want to take a star off. I guess the one criticism would be that the endless prose poems with the same tone seem a bit of a copout allowing for no closure within individual works. At the same time they are really excellent and Lerner, although I noticed people complain about density, has probably twice the retrievable content of many poets twice his age or contemporary. This is where "postmodern" or "post-postmodern" verse should be... Always returning to a social or historical relevance, (but in a completely non-didactic way of course) and if there are sleights of mind or language here, they are intriguing, instead of simply reading like a bunch of ass talk. postscript - And another thing - I had really been seeking out some poetry using repetitions that weren't faked. After being dreadfully disappointed in Gertrude Stein, I found Lerner's repetition to usually be a convincing transformation rather than a failed device...

  • Patrick Gaughan
    2019-03-13 05:23

    In the opening stanza of his non-sequitur opus, “Twenty-One Gun Salute for Ronald Reagan,” Ben Lerner says, “I want the form to enact the numbing it describes,” then rattles off a litany of one-liners clouding the modern consciousness. “America is the A-Team among nations.” “This play is making Hamlet’s mother uncomfortable.” “I can get you a healthy baby for five hundred dollars.” “They slip the surly bonds of earth and touch the face of God. / Is this thing on?” The form is the catchphrase, the Top-40 chorus, the well-turned axiom whetted on commercial stone, billboards and jingles and canned laughter punchlines all stacked like a rickety Jenga tower, rendering us wrought and dry, letting the cacophony ooze, maybe giggle for a second, then ooze again. Read the rest of my review on PeopleHerd:

  • Kent
    2019-03-11 09:21

    I have such conflicted feelings about this book. I have absolute allegiance for the longer poems. "Didactic Elegy" and "Twenty-One Gun Salute for Ronald Reagan" are truly superb. Lerner is fully engaged with the political. Even to the point of knowing how to use a reference to 9/11 without it feeling gratuitous. In fact, touching that depth of violence most people feel regarding this event is essential to making the poem what it is. The controversy comes with all the Angle of Yaw poems Lerner has in here. Yes, Didactic Elegy poses as an aesthetic manifesto that, for me, justifies their brevity, and ultra cleverness (bordering on hipsterism). I enjoy the poems because of the manifesto. But I'm not sure why there need to be so many.

  • Roshan
    2019-03-21 10:25

    There are contemporary poets creating prose-poems similar to Lerner's whose lines are funnier, stranger, prettier. There's a precision to Lerner's poems and surprising and unexpected diction but that's the most I can say for it. I wasn't impressed with the political poems--I was particularly turned off by the cliched need to talk about 9/11 in terms of the "power of images". This happens a lot with 9/11 poetry because most people who want to write about 9/11 watched it television and weren't there, and so their meditation on the event turns into an unnecessary meta-meditation on images.

  • C
    2019-03-05 07:24

    "A SURGERY TO ABRIDGE the body. A reader-friendly body presented to the public. The public depends on a well-regulated militia. Our army, too, has its required reading. A soldier must read Tolstoy's War (abr.), Dostoyevsky's Crime (abr.). Even in deaths, the old debate between depth and surface: some poets attach weight to their ankles, others just float facedown. What is the value of reading? Depends. What is it keeping you from doing?"

  • Bronwen
    2019-03-06 13:17

    Highly recommended.I particularly appreciated the two sections of prose poems. Ben recently read at KGB as well, and it was great to hear these poems read.“Astronauts sleep strapped to their beds, like lunatics, like the lunatics they are.”He make the familiar strange, makes the strangeness scary, funny, beautiful.“Last year alone, every American choked to death on a red balloon.”

  • Charles
    2019-03-07 10:08

    I was really impressed by this book--it's daring in terms of structure and content but it's also a very smart and often satirical look at god, like 8 different elements of American culture. Lerner deconstructs September 11, vision, photography, violence, the language of advertising, the act of reading...all the disparate strands are pulled together in four hypnotic sequences of long lyrical meditations or prose poems.This is probably the best book I read in 2007.

  • Tim Kahl
    2019-03-25 09:04

    Worthy of its status as National Book Award Finalist. The book combines interesting technique with searing cultural critique. This and The Lichtenberg Figures should cement his reputation for years to come. Rarely do sophomore efforts live up their first book as much as this one does.

  • Ben Bush
    2019-03-12 10:03

    "Getting there is half the fun. The other half: not getting there." "When we found the eyes in the hospital dumpster we decided to make the most awesome snowman ever." Thanks for the recommend Jeff Johnson.

  • Keith
    2019-02-28 11:05

    Prose poetry.Lerner is a smart and witty poet.There is a lot to like about this book and his poems. Can be confusing and difficult to understand, but very smart and observant.

  • Andrew
    2019-02-27 10:10

    Fucking incredible.

  • Zach
    2019-03-04 08:10

    This guy makes me jealous.