Happy Birthday, Ben Lerner, born 4 February 1979
- I could imagine it in a way that felt like remembering.
- I will begin to remember our walk in the third person, as if I’d seen it from the Manhattan Bridge, but, at the time of writing, as I lean against the chain-link fence intended to stop jumpers, I am looking back at the totaled city in the second person plural. I know it’s hard to understand / I am with you, and I know how it is.
- Art has to offer something other than stylised despair.
- If I was a poet, I had become one because poetry, more intensely than any other practice, could not evade its anachronism and marginality and so constituted a kind of acknowledgement of my own preposterousness, admitting my bad faith in good faith, so to speak.
- I was a violent, bipolar, compulsive liar. I was a real American.
- As I read I experienced what was becoming a familiar sensation: the world was rearranging itself around me while I processed words from a liquid-crystal display.
- The future doesn’t belong to the faint-hearted; it belongs to the brave.
- I see it, the author quietly exclaims, but then he encounters a problem with his tense. He doesn’t know how to continue the story in the present, at least not in a way that would put the boys to sleep as opposed to enlisting their participation in a kind of game. To his surprise, he feels the onset of panic, cold spreading through him. The particularly precocious author can’t handle the formal complexity of the bedtime story.
- I wish all difficult poems were profound.
- We relate to reality differently depending on the fictions we tell ourselves about it.
- What interests me about fiction is, in part, its flickering edge between realism and where a tear in the fabric of a story lets in some other sort of light.
- I have no interest in artists who are purely affirmative, who’ve made a commercialised fetish of the culture’s stupidity.
Ben Lerner is an American poet, novelist, essayist, and critic. He has been a Fulbright Scholar, a finalist for the National Book Award, and a Guggenheim Fellow. He is the author of Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04.
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