Ben Lerner: Advice to the Young
“You should always read your heroes’ heroes.”
To be a good writer, American Ben Lerner recommends being a good reader: “If you admire a writer and know who that writer is passionate about, it is a rich way to read, and you are not wasting your time.” Read more …
Ben Lerner teaches creative writing at Brooklyn College, where he is a Distinguished Professor of English. He advises young writers to improve their writing by reading in a certain direction:
“You don’t have to think about your reading in terms of canons and traditions but in terms of the idiosyncratic constellations of the poets that you love, loved, that to me is a rich way to read, and you are not wasting your time.”
“Figuring out who the writers you love, love, gives you a map, and you can have a whole education that way,” Ben Lerner says.
Ben Lerner (born 1979) is an American poet, novelist, essayist, and critic. Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, he has a BA in political science and an MFA in creative writing from Brown University. He has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, a finalist for the National Book Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has received many honors, including being a Guggenheim Fellow and a MacArthur Fellow. Lerner’s novels include ‘The Topeka School’ (2019), ‘10:04’ (2014), and ‘Leaving the Atocha Station’ (2011). His poetry collections include ‘No Art’ (2016), ‘Mean Free Path’ (2010), and ‘Angle of Yaw’ (2006). Ben Lerner’s monograph, ‘The Hatred of Poetry,’ was published in 2016. Lerner teaches at Brooklyn College, where he was named a Distinguished Professor of English in 2016. Among his students was Ocean Vuong.
Ben Lerner was interviewed by his Danish translator Tonny Vorm in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival in August 2022 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.
Camera: Simon Weyhe
Edit: Signe Boe Pedersen
Produced by Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022.
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