Synopses & Reviews
"You/ should have seen the sweat of still-being-alive,' writes Lemon in his sprawling, varied, and ambitious second collection. Thoughts of joy and pain, eros and death, not to mention references from Van Gogh to 'half-scratched lotto tickets' collide in these unclassifiable, rapid-fire poems. Lemon (Mosquito) constantly asks the reader to take his complex ecstasies in one swallow, diction and image madly comingled: 'Alleluia, asshole, amen./ 'Together: let us eat.' Elsewhere, 'a car wreck/ In my hands,' is followed by a plea to 'Come with me tonight, my chocolate-/smelling love' At times the fever pitch of these poems is diminished through repetition, but the book's two long poems 'Abracadaver' and the title piece provide a counterpoint to Lemon's freewheeling antics: a softer, more stripped-down voice amid the rush 'in the matchbook of our heads.'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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. 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. D. A. Powell
Alex Lemon's poetry is "a downpour that lets you see through all the gristle to our real faces." These poems charm us with their kinetic, near boisterous spunk, but they sting us too with their ever-present currents of contemplation and despair. Here amid "a jukeboxed moon" and the "sweet, sweet boogaloo of light," the only thing more remarkable than Lemon's linguistic muscle is the blood singing up from his gut. Terrance Hayes
Alex Lemon is an unstoppable phenom. He gets so much into a poem: so much world, such rich human voice, and he gets so terrifyingly close to both the self and the overwhelming Everything Else. He does this while making us look at the smallest, loveliest, worst, or plainest details at the oddest moments. Readers experience the wearing of shirts and the eating of apples and beans; a split second later we're by turns divine, genius, ravaging, and prayerful. Then we're hurt again. Then we're in love. It's as if we have been granted extra lives. Lemon's art is transformative, staggering, and in the end, compassionate. He's one of us, letting us know: we're in trouble but we're okay. Brenda Shaughnessy
Alex Lemons work defies categorization. Stark juxtaposition of images evokes the New York School, verbal collages suggest the associative method of the postmodernists, and his playful attention to sound recalls elements of Language School poetry. While these elements surface in Lemons work, his poetry remains profoundly original, his voice remarkably distinct. Lemon is also, like Frank OHara, an autobiographical poet, using the materials of life for inspiration. At 29, he is already a survivor of brain surgery. Still coping with the surgerys effects, including a gradual loss of vision, he invokes, proclaims, decries, and serenades the world that results after the violation of identity. When the membranes that divide mind and body rupture, the result is not a void, but a strange sensory landscape where all stimuli exist on the same level. Avoiding the easy temptations of both despair and consolation, Hallelujah Blackout embraces the full range of the human experience.