2014 Featured Festival Poet: Alex Lemon

Posted on by Rebecca Gambale, Online Communications Coordinator

My life, I drop

Quarters in
The slot

& select
The worst

Song on
The jukebox

& then sneak
Out to

Through the rain-

Streaked glass.

excerpt from “All of the Made Roads” in Fancy Beasts

There is something visceral, and a little bit mischievous, about Alex Lemon’s poems. They’re always unmistakably set in life right now, right here, standing in wonder of the world, for all that is good and all that is terrifying. Like he’s lucky to be alive. And well, he is.

In his memoir Happy, Lemon tells of his first year of college, when he was the fun-loving, gregarious guy on campus, always with a smile and a beer and a girl. Then, he had his first stroke. Due to a physical malformation in his brain stem, Lemon suffered 2 brain bleeds, followed by what he describes as “self-destructive behavior and severe depression.”

This somber history, it seems, has been the darkness that makes colors shine a bit more brightly in a Lemon poem, makes the words a more electric on the page. He’s going to give you a workout with his energized images, sometimes bending grammar and structure to his will. He’s going to make you laugh, too, with his unapologetic take on modern life and unflinching honesty. And at the heart of it all, there is a return to a deep happiness and gratitude, and sense of awe:

“…what a sacrifice

It is each day just to get by, this alchemy,

This fevered life: illness & love,

Lockjaw & slow motion kidnappings –it is what

It always is—chronic dying, shivering with

Unbelievable joy & not knowing a damn thing

About anything as lightning

Jigsaws the horizon.”

from “I Knew You Before You Were” from The Wish Book

Many of the poems in Lemon’s new book The Wish Book are about this wonder as he brings his son into the world, being a father and the terror and thrill of the world around his son. But, in an interview, Lemon laughs and gets to the heart of the matter: “It’s pretty fantastic to be alive, no matter who you are. You think you live a boring life…nothing’s boring. My mom always told me that. If you’re bored, it’s because YOU’RE boring. ‘Cuz the world’s not boring at all.” And the world of Lemon’s poems is even less boring than that.

We look forward to welcoming Alex Lemon to the stages of the Dodge Poetry Festival this fall.


We encourage you to use the “Comments” box below to share other resources you may have found for this poet. In this way, we can build together a mini-wiki-encyclopedia on the 2014 Festival Poets.

For more information on the 2014 Dodge Poetry Festival and Program,
visit our website dodgepoetry.org

– See more at: https://blog.grdodge.org/2014/08/22/2014-featured-festival-poet-shara-mccallum/#sthash.9iOaHObG.dpuf

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