September 14, 2017
Lemon Andersen
Hispanic Heritage Month
The Great Hall

On the occasion of the Hispanic Heritage Week, the APEX Series is happy to welcome Lemon Andersen on SUU's Campus. Raised in Brooklyn, Lemon Andersen won a Tony award as an original cast member of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, for which he was also nominated for a Drama Desk Award. His staged memoir County of Kings: The Beautiful Struggle, produced by Spike Lee, premiered at the Public Theater in 2009 to rave reviews from The New York Times, The New Yorker and The Brooklyn Rail, among others. Since then, he has toured the one-man show–which took the grand prize at the 2010 New York Book Festival–at campuses and theaters across the U.S. and on three continents. More recently, Andersen was the feature of the internationally acclaimed documentary Lemon, screened in 2012-2013 at film festivals and performing arts centers across North America.

Event Reflection

On Thursday, September 14, Southern Utah University was visited by Lemon Andersen. Lemon Andersen is a Tony Award winning actor, author, poet, and artist. Lemon’s visit was first event in the 2017-18 season of the A.P.E.X. Event Series; a smashing start to a very electric season. His presentation was also inspired by Hispanic Heritage Month. Lemon, a native of New York, shared his story growing up in a home with a sick and drug-addicted mother. He discussed his struggle with coming to terms with his identity in Latin community and the last name, Andersen.

Lemon began his presentation by reciting one of his own poems. As he would present his works, the audience was instantly captivated by his vigor, presence, and his commitment to his art. The presentation was largely a discussion between Lemon and Dr. Lynn Vartan, the director of the A.P.E.X. Event Series. Through-out the conversation Lemon would read from his own book, “County of Kings,” which was sold at the event. The following is a quote from Lemon’s poem, “No-mores.”

No more pity
No more phone operators knowing me
by my first name cause of all the 911 dialing
No more Pentecostal preacher house visits
like if her sickness was a demon
No more dope fiends asking me if my mother got
No more errands, freeloading
door knocking to borrow milk money from our neighbors
No-mores started to be outshined by only-one-mores

The rest of the poem can be read in Lemon’s book, “County of Kings”

During the afternoon, there was a showing of the film, “Lemon.” A video about his journey from winning a Tony Award, enjoying a better life, and then figuring out how to give his life direction after the success of his Broadway days faded away. He had to decide how he was going to take care of his family and to find meaning in his life. Lemon had to learn that his writing and craft had to become his lifestyle. His advice for young writers is, “you have to believe your first draft is your worst draft.” He encouraged the audience to continually find a way to make their work better and to fully invest themselves in their projects with raw honesty. He believes that the world is already too full of the “perfect” or “ideal” parts of an individual’s life; the world needs more honesty and truth.

Stay tuned for A.P.E.X.’s next event, Helen Foster Snow Day, on Sept. 21.