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Angle of Yaw

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  636 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews

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
Paperback, 127 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Copper Canyon Press
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Jul 27, 2008 Joe rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Regan
Recommended to Joe by: Parachuttes
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 ...more
Peycho Kanev
Dec 09, 2015 Peycho Kanev rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Sometimes I feel that even Ben Lerner doesn't know what Ben Lerner is writing about. But, you know, ...Modernist!
Scott Hammer
Nov 28, 2008 Scott Hammer rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 26, 2017 Peter Landau rated it really liked it
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, so ...more
Jan 11, 2011 Nicola rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather June Gibbons
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
Jan 02, 2016 Mary K rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"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
Jun 28, 2013 Eric T. Voigt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: summer-thirteen
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.
Jan 14, 2017 Patrick rated it really liked it
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."
Hooper Bring
Jun 19, 2017 Hooper Bring rated it did not like it
It seemed cartoonish in a way I don't like. I kept thinking "Pynchonian" throughout. I laughed several times but don't remember why. I couldn't tell you any specifics about the contents of this book if you asked.
Robert Beveridge
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 f
Jul 10, 2016 i! rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, american
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 tin ...more
Eric Phetteplace
Nov 30, 2008 Eric Phetteplace rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
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
Feb 26, 2014 Jaclyn rated it it was amazing
"Angle of Yaw" is one of my recent favorites. Ben Lerner is fantastic as 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 ...more
S.D. Johnson
Feb 28, 2016 S.D. Johnson rated it it was amazing
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 "postmode ...more
Patrick Gaughan
Apr 05, 2011 Patrick Gaughan rated it really liked it
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, th ...more
Aug 12, 2010 Kent rated it it was amazing
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 ha ...more
Mar 11, 2010 Travis rated it liked it
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 Mi
Mar 22, 2013 Roshan rated it liked it
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 the ...more
Apr 15, 2008 C rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"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?"
Aug 22, 2007 Bronwen rated it really liked it
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.”
Nov 24, 2007 Charles rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: folks who like rhetorical poetry, prose poets
Shelves: poetry
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.
Sep 20, 2007 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: worth-it-poetry
For prose poetry, four stars is a high high rating from me. Lerner's second book includes some rather pointless pieces, but also some really fascinating, poignant ones. Also, I'm a big fan of the title-as-part-of-the-poem technique, and he has it mastered.
Tim Kahl
Dec 26, 2008 Tim Kahl rated it it was amazing
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
"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.
Mar 15, 2008 Keith rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: poetry readers. thinkers
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.
Dec 05, 2011 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Fucking incredible.
Aug 12, 2008 Zach rated it really liked it
This guy makes me jealous.
Nicholas Finch
Feb 10, 2015 Nicholas Finch rated it it was amazing
Ben Lerner is officially my favorite living poet.
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Benjamin S. Lerner is an American poet, novelist, and critic. He was awarded the Hayden Carruth prize for his cycle of fifty-two sonnets, The Lichtenberg Figures. In 2004, Library Journal named it one of the year's twelve best books of poetry. The Lichtenberg Figures appeared in a German translation in 2010, for which it received the "Preis der Stadt Münster für internationale Poesie" in 2011, mak ...more
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