The Lichtenberg FiguresBook - 2004
The Lichtenberg Figures, winner of the Hayden Carruth Award, is an unconventional sonnet sequence that interrogates the relationship between language and memory, violence and form. “Lichtenberg figures” are fern-like electrical patterns that can appear on (and quickly fade from) the bodies of people struck by lightning.
Throughout this playful and elegiac debut—with its flashes of autobiography, intellection, comedy, and critique—the vocabulary of academic theory collides with American slang and the idiom of the Old Testament meets the jargon of the Internet to display an eclectic sensibility.
Ben Lerner, the youngest poet ever published by Copper Canyon Press, is co-founder of No: a journal of the arts. He earned an MFA from Brown University and is currently a Fulbright scholar in Spain.
Blackwell North Amer
The Lichtenberg Figures, winner of the Hayden Carruth Award for Emerging Poets, is a sonnet sequence that interrogates the relationships between language and memory, violence and form. The book takes its title from the fernlike patterns that sometimes appear (and quickly fade) in the aftermath of a lightning strike.
Lerner's poems mimic and explore the complex juxtapositions of contemporary culture through permutation, repetition, and collage. The vocabulary of academic theory collides with American slang, the idiom of the Old Testament meets the jargon of the Internet, and cliches are cracked open and made new and strange. Throughout this debut, flashes of autobiography, comedy, fury, and critique illuminate an eclectic sensibility that is sometimes in command of, and sometimes commanded by, the power of speech.