A formally ambitious and intensely felt new volume from the author of 10:04 and The Topeka School. Ben Lerner's The Lights is a constellation of verse and prose, voice mails and vignettes, songs and felt silences, that brings the personal and the collective into startling relation. These are poems at once alive to “the real forces at work in the popular” and “the wind in the poplars,” “the blue glow of the screen” and “the snow blue in the light.” Sometimes the scale is intimate, quiet, and sometimes the poems are sweeping, Orphic experiments in the animation of our common world. Written over a span of fifteen years, The Lights registers the pleasures, risks, and absurdities of making art and family and meaning against a backdrop of interlocking, accelerating crises, but for all their insight and critique, the poems ultimately communicate—in their unpredictability, in their intensities—the promise of mysterious sources of lift and illumination.
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