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Mean Free Path

by

Mean Free Path Cover

 

Awards

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

National Book Award finalist Ben Lerner turns to science once again for his guiding metaphor. Mean free path is the average distance a particle travels before colliding with another particle. The poems in Lerner's third collection are full of layered collisions--repetitions, fragmentations, stutters, re-combinations--that track how language threatens to break up or change course under the emotional pressures of the utterance. And then there's the larger collision of love, and while Lerner questions whether love poems are even possible, he composes a gorgeous, symphonic, and complicated one.

You startled me. I thought you were sleeping

In the traditional sense. I like looking

At anything under glass, especially

Glass. You called me. Like overheard

Dreams. I'm writing this one as a woman

Comfortable with failure. I promise I will never

But the predicate withered. If you are

Uncomfortable seeing this as portraiture

Close your eyes. No, you startled

Review:

"Lerner is both a favorite among young avant-garde poets and a recipient of more traditional honors — his previous book was a finalist for the National Book Award. In his third collection, which is composed of two alternating sequences, he continues and deepens his exploration of how contemporary mass culture taints language, testing the border where words transition from expressing real feeling to being so overused they mean almost nothing. The nine-line stanzas of 'Mean Free Path' utilize collage, found language, humor, and snippets of what seem like autobiography to question how much a poem can really say. 'I'm sorry, sorrier/ Than I can say on such a tiny phone.' Stunningly prescient insights ('In total war, the front is continuous') alternate with humorous asides and haunting admissions of the limits of interpersonal connection, noting 'the sudden suspicion the teeth/ In your mouth are not your own, let/ Alone the words.' The page-long 'Doppler Elegies' utilizes many of the same techniques in an attempt to construct a fragmentary love poem to 'Ari.' Promising sentences are cut off at the line break, only to resume in the midst of another, entirely different thought, often creating pertinent juxtapositions, as in a poem that laments 'The life we've chosen/ from a drop-down menu.' Lerner keeps refining his techniques and remains a younger poet whose work deserves attention." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Sharp, ambitious, and impressive." Boston Review

Synopsis:

National Book Award finalist's third volume is layered with quick changes, false starts, and continuous reorientation

Synopsis:

Poetry. National Book Award finalist Ben Lerner turns to science once again for his guiding metaphor. "Mean free path" is the average distance a particle travels before colliding with another particle. The poems in Lerner's third collection are full of layered collisions--repetitions, fragmentations, stutters, re-combinations--that track how language threatens to break up or change course under the emotional pressures of the utterance. And then there's the larger collision of love, and while Lerner questions whether love poems are even possible, he composes a gorgeous, symphonic, and complicated one.

About the Author

Ben Lerner is the author of three books of poetry: Mean Free Path, Angle of Yaw, named a finalist for the National Book Award for his second book; and The Lichtenberg Figures. He holds degrees from Brown University, co-founded NO: a journal of the arts, and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781556593147
Author:
Lerner, Ben
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
General Poetry
Subject:
Poetry-A to Z
Subject:
Single Author / American
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20100331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
96
Dimensions:
9.5 x 7 x 0.25 in 6 oz

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

Mean Free Path New Trade Paper
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Product details 96 pages Copper Canyon Press - English 9781556593147 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Lerner is both a favorite among young avant-garde poets and a recipient of more traditional honors — his previous book was a finalist for the National Book Award. In his third collection, which is composed of two alternating sequences, he continues and deepens his exploration of how contemporary mass culture taints language, testing the border where words transition from expressing real feeling to being so overused they mean almost nothing. The nine-line stanzas of 'Mean Free Path' utilize collage, found language, humor, and snippets of what seem like autobiography to question how much a poem can really say. 'I'm sorry, sorrier/ Than I can say on such a tiny phone.' Stunningly prescient insights ('In total war, the front is continuous') alternate with humorous asides and haunting admissions of the limits of interpersonal connection, noting 'the sudden suspicion the teeth/ In your mouth are not your own, let/ Alone the words.' The page-long 'Doppler Elegies' utilizes many of the same techniques in an attempt to construct a fragmentary love poem to 'Ari.' Promising sentences are cut off at the line break, only to resume in the midst of another, entirely different thought, often creating pertinent juxtapositions, as in a poem that laments 'The life we've chosen/ from a drop-down menu.' Lerner keeps refining his techniques and remains a younger poet whose work deserves attention." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Sharp, ambitious, and impressive."
"Synopsis" by ,
National Book Award finalist's third volume is layered with quick changes, false starts, and continuous reorientation
"Synopsis" by , Poetry. National Book Award finalist Ben Lerner turns to science once again for his guiding metaphor. "Mean free path" is the average distance a particle travels before colliding with another particle. The poems in Lerner's third collection are full of layered collisions--repetitions, fragmentations, stutters, re-combinations--that track how language threatens to break up or change course under the emotional pressures of the utterance. And then there's the larger collision of love, and while Lerner questions whether love poems are even possible, he composes a gorgeous, symphonic, and complicated one.
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