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Angle of Yaw

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  751 ratings  ·  50 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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Peycho Kanev
Dec 09, 2015 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!
Jul 27, 2008 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
Scott Hammer
Nov 28, 2008 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 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, ...more
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Salty Swift
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What the hell did I just read - would be a good assessment if you're a Ben Lerner novice. Since I'd read a bulk of his poetry collections and two novels, this is more par for the course.... potent, brimming with innovation and creativity, it's as good a place to begin your relationship with Lerner as any.
Aaron Mcilhenny
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ben Lerner really can't get over how some people like to watch TV
Mar 11, 2010 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
Heather Gibbons
Nov 06, 2007 rated it liked it
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 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 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 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."
Andrew Ford
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lerner has a facility with prose that serves him well as a poet, or vice verse. Either way, I know I had to read this slowly and carefully to receive the full flower of its feeling and doing so has been one of the more pleasurable experiences of my life.

Anyway, run don’t walk, is my point.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry-2019
I found this one to be much more enjoyable than the Lichtenberg Figures. It's incredibly playful and freeform. The last section in particular is a loosely strung together series of thoughts and observations, realist and surreal, strange and benign. The highlight for sure.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
"I disagree
Your life isn't worth the paper it's printed on."
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Clever, surreal poems that reminded me at times of Patricia Lockwood, but armored somewhat by male privilege.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it
His prose poems move at a rapid pace.
No slow Lerner here.
Four stars for the closing Reagan poem.
Antonio Delgado
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Poems/prose full of literary theory and criticism without falling into a single -ism.
Becky Boyle
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
just a scooch too cerebral for me at times, but intriguing nonetheless.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
“The fruit is star-shaped when cut in cross section and is therefore called star fruit. Our people often name an object after the manner in which we destroy it.”

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
Jul 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
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 ...more
Eric Phetteplace
Nov 30, 2008 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 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Patty Gone
Apr 05, 2011 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, ...more
Aug 12, 2010 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 ...more
Mar 22, 2013 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 ...more
Apr 15, 2008 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?"
Nov 24, 2007 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.
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Ben 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, making ...more
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