May 17, 2012

AWRF 2012: Lemon Andersen

I was among the crowd basking in the energy late on the Festival's last day as Lemon Andersen (the source of the energy) was interviewed by Nick Dwyer (who had the good taste to stay true to his quiet, nice guy self). It was the perfect high note to end my festival experience on -- including the moment when Lemon was asked to read from his book, didn't have a copy on him, appealed to the audience, and I saw Chris from the Readers Services team at Central City Library step up to hand him her personal copy. She almost didn't get it back, either, as Lemon somehow managed to feed it into the maw of his armchair when he sat back down. What kind of a cheat would that have been? Luckily persistence and an AWRF stagehand bouncing the chair about were able to get it back to Chris in time for her to get it signed. Here are Chris's observations from her memorable AWRF experience.
 
I made one selection from this month's Auckland Writers and Readers Festival and this was to see Lemon Andersen, the American poet, spoken word artist and actor live.
He performed some excerpts from County of Kings, his one man show and biographical account of his amazing life story told through urban poetry. It was fabulous to see Lemon perform live and to see that he still burns with a passion to spread the word in his own unique style. It was poignant to hear Lemon talk about his mother Mili and her death, shortly after first reading his poems.

A month ago I had seen the documentary Lemon (USA 2011 Dir Laura Brownson, Beth Levison) which provided a fascinating look at Lemon as he struggled to bring his life story to stage and try and maintain a living for his family and himself.

His life journey reads like a movie – born and raised in Brooklyn, half-Puerto Rican, half-Norwegian. Parents both addicts who met at a methadone clinic and passed away from AIDS. Survived on the streets with his brother, the inevitable run in with authorities, served two prison sentences by the time he was 21 and won a Tony award before he turned 30. Lemon’s passion for the written word and poetry was awakened within him while in prison. Lemon became a regular on, and had the most aired episodes of, HBO’s Def Poetry and was an original cast member of the award winning Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. A high point in the Lemon rollercoaster ride.

It was interesting that at his festival appearance Lemon said he has not seen the documentary and that it had been a hard process having the cameras constantly around him and especially his family.


My personal copy of County of Kings is now signed and had been used by Lemon himself during the show. It must be difficult constantly performing in a one man show and I was pleased to hear he had some down time while in Auckland at Rakinos in the city. I wonder what is in the next chapter in the life of Lemon?

“So watch me be the artist who was born ready made, watch me take the lemons and make the best goddamn lemonade.” LEMON





Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 03:00
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