Mosquito: Poems

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In the tradition of Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Notebooks and works by Lucia Perillo, Linda Gregg, and Jane Kenyon, Mosquito uses a literary format as a way to deal with serious illness and recovery. Lemon underwent brain surgery as a young man, and Mosquito turns that life-changing event into a vibrantly imagistic, poetic autobiography. The book is arranged in four parts. The first part tracks the emotional journey of the speaker during a grave illness, meditating unsentimentally on the grim details of hospitalization and surgery. Part two expands into the speaker’s erotic life, plunging into sexuality as a realm that resonates with both life and death. The last two parts explore the speaker’s world, historical and familial, as he is transformed by his trials. Lemon’s magnum opus is an anguished, observant, and resilient meditation as much zen as it is explosive, as clinical as it is philosophical and lyrical.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Lemon's passion and vulnerability will strip bare your conscience. There will be only scars remaining where doubt used to be-in places you never thought there would exist an experience so wrought yet so tenderly evoked that you'd be sure as hell it was yours." -D. Antwan Stewart, CutBank Reviews
"The poems in Alex Lemon's striking first book document the experience of undergoing brain surgery, an agonizing recovery, and the sudden discovery of Eros, who finally emerges as the ultimate emblem of survival. Careful yet raw, the fresh sutures that comprise the lines in many of these poems sing of pain so sharply as to verge on ethereal." -Cate Marvin, Ploughshares
"With its popping language, lucid narrative and striking imagery, Lemon seems to have greedily plundered the entire scope of contemporary poetry for what may be one of the most solid book debuts in years." -Todd Dillard, Pebble Lake Review
"His speakers are unrelenting in their quest to remain focused on life's true and pure moments despite, or rather because of, their fear. Alex Lemon's poems instruct us to hold onto these experiences and keep them close to us." -Michael Levan, Third Coast
"Brave and exciting work." -Southern Review
"'When I say hello, it means bite my heart,' begins one of the poems in Alex Lemon's startlingly raw and raucous first book. Speakers declare, 'I am Hi-Fi, all of me is surround / sound,' and describe a painting of the self as having 'eyes like megaphones.' Reading these poems is like having your five senses turned up to an almost unbearable volume. Sight: 'I could see the patch of hair you'd missed shaving / glow on your calf like a gold brick in an Iowa cornfield.' Sound: "What named me, the moth pleads, banging jazz from light bulbs.' Taste: 'I eat fr'zen strawberries.' Touch: 'Maybe, the surgeon said, / caressing my head like a hurricane.' Lemon's ardent search for beauty and mercy in Mosquito is transformative and true." -Matthea Harvey, author of Sad Little Breathing Machine: Poems
"Broken and brilliant, protean and written in blood, these poems are missives from the other side, the should-have-almost-died side, the burning-but-not-consumed side, and all Alex Lemon offers to console us are 'the nails on [his] tongue.' Mosquito introduces a thrilling new voice in American poetry." -Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
"In these days of vast changes in American poetry, it is a joy to read the work of Alex Lemon. His poems pull the reader into a world of familiarities, while they confront daily experience in totally surprising ways. Mosquito means there is something there, so you better grab it before it disappears or becomes something else. It also means the vibrancy of these poems comes from the union between the microscopic and the panoramic-that focus of vision most poets spend a lifetime exploring. To show this kind of confidence and sense of direction means we have a major young poet on our hands. And, for poetry, that is the most vital gift it can receive." -Ray Gonzalez, author of Consideration of the Guitar: New and Selected Poems

"Mosquito is an enigmatic, engaging read. Ideal for those who enjoy formal and experimental poetry alike, Alex Lemon's book is a truly remarkable debut." —Kristina Marie Darling, The Midwest Book Review

Publishers Weekly
In this edgy, energetic, even frenetic debut from a rising star of the Midwest, Lemon's jagged, commanding voice both charms and shocks: "Voice, be amazing/ circling the river bottom," his leadoff poem instructs. The first section (of four) stuns with accessible yet intense language, and also with the events it appears to describe: brain surgery and the poet's slow recovery from it. "Tomorrow my head opens," he says; "If I am still/ here, someone let me know what I am." Subsequent poems steer clear of medical topics in favor of sparkling, slightly diffuse cascades of images: "It is the year of the dismembered horse/ Bury me with bones instead of eyes." Crackling extremes court melodrama knowingly, challenging readers to say when enough is enough. Lemon's rawness and intelligence have a fine, in-your-face excess. Physical violence-"chipped-teeth," "kicked-heart,/ dried blood"-recurs as experience and symbol, as do a series of crime novel and film noir backdrops: "always, I'm decapitated," Lemon claims, "& feel as though someone is tracing/ The zippers of my self-inflicted bites." Above all, these poems make strong impressions, using their verbal surprises as confrontational flirtations, or else tiny explosives. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780977312740
  • Publisher: Tin House Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Series: Tin House New Voice Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 83
  • Sales rank: 699,779
  • Product dimensions: 5.28 (w) x 7.22 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Alex Lemon
Contributor residences (city, state or country if outside the US or Canada):Minneapolis, Minnesota

Alex Lemon's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous magazines including Tin House, Denver Quarterly, AGNI, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Pleiades, Post Road, Swink and Washington Square. His translations (with Wang Ping) of a number of contemporary Chinese poets are forthcoming in Tin House, New American Writing and other journals. Among his awards are a 2005 Literature Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. Alex is a frequent contributor to The Bloomsbury Review. Currently, he teaches at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Table of Contents

The best part 6
After 7
Two for my tumor 9
Scaffolding 11
Last body 13
DNA 15
Goodbye song 16
Swallowing the scalpel 17
Love is a very small tsunami 22
Plum 24
Fantastic goes the lost cause 26
The pleasure notebook 27
Juke joint 32
A country mile of soft 33
Happiness 34
Step up 35
Graffiti 36
Desideratum 38
The portrait by mother painted from my mug shot mosquito 40
Other good 42
Slake 44
Fuck you lazy God 45
Mugging 47
Little handcuffs of air 49
Kinematics 50
Rivets 52
Ashtray 53
Silt 54
Having been roused ... 56
The butcher dreams 57
Arpeggio 58
Snow 60
Who finds you 62
Corpus 66
Callnote 67
Fever 68
The first day of spring kind of feeling 70
Look close 71
Cocoon 72
The xylophone is blaze 73
Preface to augury 74
Sophisticated 78
Below the nearer sky 80
Happy fun sex movie 82
Tumult 83
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