Ben Lerner

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Ben Lerner
Born (1979-02-04) February 4, 1979 (age 35)
Topeka, Kansas
Nationality United States
Alma mater Brown University
Genre Poetry, Novels, Essays
Notable awards Hayden Carruth prize;
Believer Book Award

Benjamin S. Lerner (born February 4, 1979) is an American poet, novelist, essayist, and critic. He has been a Fulbright Scholar, a finalist for the National Book Award, a Howard Foundation Fellow, and a Guggenheim Fellow, among other awards. In 2011 he won the "Preis der Stadt Münster für internationale Poesie", making Lerner the first American to receive this honor.[1] Lerner is currently a professor of English at Brooklyn College.[2]

Life and work[edit]

Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, which figures in each of his books of poetry, Lerner is a 1997 graduate of Topeka High School where he was a standout in debate and forensics, winning the 1997 National Forensics League National Tournament in International Extemporaneous Speaking.[3] At Brown University he earned a B.A. in Political Theory and an MFA in Poetry.

Lerner 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.

He traveled on a Fulbright Scholarship to Madrid, Spain in 2003 where he wrote his second book, Angle of Yaw, which was published in 2006 and was subsequently named a finalist for the National Book Award, and was selected by Brian Foley as one of the "25 important books of poetry of the 00s (2000-2009)".[4] Lerner's third full-length poetry collection, Mean Free Path, was published in 2010.[5][6]

Lerner's first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, was published by Coffee House Press in August 2011.[7] It was named one of the best books of the year by The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and New York Magazine, among other periodicals.[8][9][10][11][12] It won the Believer Book Award.[13] and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for "first fiction" and the New York Public Library's Young Lions prize, among other honors. Excerpts of Lerner's second novel, 10:04, won the Terry Southern Prize from The Paris Review. [14] His essays, art criticism, and literary criticism have appeared in a variety of publications, including Art in America, boundary 2, Frieze, Harper's, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. [15]

In 2008, Lerner began editing poetry for Critical Quarterly, a British academic publication.[16] He has taught at California College of the Arts, the University of Pittsburgh, and in 2010 joined the faculty of the MFA program at Brooklyn College.[17]

Lerner's mother is the well-known psychologist Harriet Lerner.[18]






Selected web publications[edit]



The Lichtenberg Figures
Angle of Yaw
Mean Free Path
Leaving The Atocha Station
  • Die wollen doch nur spielen An essay by Matthias Göritz, principally focusing in on the German translation of The Lichtenberg Figures; appears online in SPRITZ (German)
  • An essay treating Lerner in Postmodern Culture.[35]


  1. ^ a b "Stadt Münster: Kulturamt - Lyrikertreffen". Archived from the original on 17 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Blankenship, Bill (March 9, 2005). "Young poet to read works at Washburn". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  4. ^ "25 Important Books of Poetry of the 00s, by Brian Foley". Htmlgiant. 2009-12-14. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  5. ^ In physics, the “mean free path” of a particle is the average distance it travels before colliding with another particle. The poems in Lerner’s third collection, Mean Free Path (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), are full of discrete collisions—stutters, repetitions, fragmentations, recombinations—that track how language breaks up or changes course under the emotional pressure of the utterance.
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "Ben Lerner". Narrative Magazine. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Books of the year 2011". The Guardian (London). 2011-11-25. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "The Best Fiction of 2011". The Wall Street Journal. 2011-12-17. 
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "The ‘angle of immunity’: face and façade in Beckett's Film - GAVIN - 2008 - Critical Quarterly - Wiley Online Library". 2008-04-16. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  17. ^ "Brooklyn College English Department - MFA Faculty". Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  18. ^ Link (2006-12-05). "Silliman's Blog". Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  19. ^ [2][dead link]
  20. ^ "Acclaimed young poet Ben Lerner relocates to Pittsburgh. - Books - Book Reviews & Features - Pittsburgh City Paper". Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  21. ^ "National Book Award 2006". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  22. ^ "Poetry Flash:NCBRAwards". Poetry Flash. 
  23. ^ "New Fellows". Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  24. ^ "Book Prizes – Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Finalist for the 2012 PEN/Bingham Award". Star Tribune. 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Scroll down the page to find this review, which appears alongside Catherine Barnett's Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced, Christian Hawkey's The Book of Funnels, Sabrina Orah Mark's The Babies, and Gilbert Sorrentino's New and Selected Poems: 1958–1998.
  34. ^ The review is by Craig Morgan Teicher whose book of poems, Brenda Is in the Room and Other Poems, won the 2007 Colorado Prize for Poetry.
  35. ^ Note: This appears to be a dead link (accessed on April 25, 2010) to a piece by David Caplan, "On Poetic Curiosity A response to Lori Emerson, Demystifying the Digital, Re-animating the Book: A Digital Poetics". Probably not accessible unless at a Library that has a subscription to Project Muse.

External links[edit]