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Today@Sam Article

Poet To Share 'Happiness' With Campus

Feb. 24, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

Poet and memoirist Alex Lemon will present a reading from his work on Wednesday (March 2), at 5 p.m. in Evans Complex Room 105.

Lemon is the author of “Happy: A Memoir;” the poetry collections “Mosquito, “Hallelujah Blackout,” and “Fancy Beasts;” and the chapbook “At Last Unfolding Congo.”

“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to present Alex and his work to the students and the community here,” said Scott Kaukonen, assistant professor of English and a member of the creative writing faculty. “Regardless of the genre in which he’s working, Alex’s writing zips and zings with great energy and a vibrancy and vitality that you cannot help but be engaged by.”

“Happy: A Memoir” chronicles Lemon’s experiences as a young man who appeared to be the carefree, star athlete, guy-who-gets-the girl, hard-partying college student that many young men want to be. But when he suffers a stroke in the spring of his freshman year, things unravel, and Lemon spins into a cycle of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and cruelty that ultimately reveals that Happy, his nickname around campus, had only been a mask.

In raw, honest, and unflinching language, Lemon takes the reader through that period of his life, including brain surgery, relationships, and a recovery, both physical and spiritual, that’s nursed along by his loving, artist mother.

“It’s a memoir, but it’s also the memoir of a poet,” Kaukonen said, “and that sensibility fills every page.”

Lemon’s writing has appeared in Esquire, Best American Poetry 2008, AGNI, BOMB, Gulf Coast, jubilat, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Open City, Pleiades and Tin House, among others.

e was awarded a 2005 Literature Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and a 2006 Minnesota Arts Board Grant.

Publishers Weekly described Lemon’s most recent collection of poetry, “Fancy Beasts,” as “full of raw energy, up-to-date in its slang and its jump cuts, effervescent with the playfulness and sometimes the angers of youth . . . (it) conveys a likable, outsized personality.”

D.A. Powell called “Hallelujah Blackout,” Lemon’s second collection, “a Chaplinesque vaudeville, both mirthful and moving; a pure-gospel shout to the vaulted heavens; a hatful of abracadabras with a wink and a smile.”

“‘Hallelujah Blackout’ is a muscular, vibrant book,” Powell said. “Painful without being pitying (‘I have little time to let mere ailments worry me’), inventive without being showy, this is an astonishing, masterful collection of poems.”

Lemon also co-edits LUNA: A Journal of Poetry and Translation with Ray Gonzalez and frequently writes book reviews.

He lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and teaches at Texas Christian University.

The event, sponsored by the English department, is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Kaukonen at 936.294.1407 or kaukonen@shsu.edu.


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