Featured Poet: Lemon’s Sweet and Sour

I have a thing for small books that are all cute and different and feel good and fit snugly in any size bag I carry. Now, full disclosure, I often discriminate against books for their covers as much as I allow them to influence me in a positive way. I am not the kind of woman who buys a book with a rigor mortis insect on the cover. I just don’t. It’s gross. Nuff said.

But unexpectedly small size or not, dead bug or not, Mosquito fell into my hands last summer and hasn’t been far from my side since.

I am so proud of myself when I come across a heretofore unknown poet. I love discovering unexpected imagery to make me rethink my own writing, I even love hate reading enviable lines that make me want to manipulate words as dexterously as Alex Lemon.

Lemon. Even his name is wordplay.

After reading a mere stanza or two of Alex Lemon’s first collection Mosquito, the book quickly became the title I do not shelve but rather leave out for regular reading and admiring. Just one small reason why:

When I say hello, it means bite my heart.
Let the blackfly spin invisible & delirious

on vinyl. Let it save me from what I can’t
know. Send posthumous letters in neon,

scribble love unreadable.

(from “Corpus,” featured in Mosquito, by Alex Lemon, ©2006)

Lemon’s second collection is Hallelujah Blackout and, like the first collection, it delves erotically, lyrically, masterfully into the trippy comings and goings of this former brain surgery patient

He has taken the easily mundane and often overwrought subjects of illness and recovery and made them explosive. I have much love for the poet who can make a hospital stay memorable through words and not just because of his descriptions of the stench of disinfectant, the slice of the scalpel, the chorus of pumping machines.

This isn’t Grey’s Anatomy. This is a magician who has taken common words like flesh, blood, brain, surgery, and pain and developed them into a new vocabulary for the poet.

I anxiously await Lemon’s memoir Happy, due out this month. And I just discovered that he has another forthcoming poetry collection – Fancy Beasts. The Amazon summary of this book bums me out a little because the subject matter seems to be moving away from Lemon’s illness-related writing. But I’ll give it a shot. The guy hasn’t let me down yet.

Further reading: Check out his website.

Get the book: All of ’em, but especially Mosquito.

Whether you’re a reader or you’re a writer too, is there one specific topic – for Lemon, it’s illness – that you find yourself seeking out or writing about over and over again?

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