Augustana Observer

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Augustana Observer

Rozz Tox to feature local poets

Poet Tyler Mills will read excerpts from her book "Tongue Lyre" at Rozz Tox on Sept. 12. Photo credit: Arik Lubkin.
Poet Tyler Mills will read excerpts from her book “Tongue Lyre” at Rozz Tox on Sept. 12. Photo credit: Arik Lubkin.

Local poets will read original work, exploring topics such as the environment, relationships and what it means to be alive.
Published poets Tyler Mills, Alex Lemon and Adam Clay are to be featured in the Spectra Poetry Reading Series at Rozz Tox in Rock Island. The series begins Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. after a writing workshop with the poets.
The featured poets come from different backgrounds, each with past experiences that led to the success they have today. Author of published books, including “Mosquito” and “The Wish Book,” Alex Lemon said he began writing seriously during his recovery after brain surgery, with help from two professors at Macalester College.
“They opened up the world of writing for me,” Lemon said. “They showed me how truly amazing it is, how life-shaping it can be and, most bewildering for me at the time, told me it was something that I should consider doing beyond my time with them as an undergraduate. It was incredibly powerful for me at the time. I’d just had brain surgery to repair a vascular malformation in my brain stem after taking what would have been my senior year off to recover and relearn how to do a lot of very basic stuff.  I was incredibly sad and felt lost in the world and their presence in my life, at the time, was vital.”
Lemon’s first published work was in the literary magazine at Macalester College. After a break from writing and three years of graduate school, he began to attempt publication in well-known magazines and journals.
“I had to write piles and piles of terrible stuff to get to a place where I felt comfortable sending work out to nationally reputable journals for consideration for publication,” Lemon said. “But, eventually, I felt good about the work, or good enough, to send it out to journals.”
Today, Lemon has four published books, and has also published book reviews, interviews and journalistic pieces in Esquire, the Huffington Post, the New York Times and the Dallas Morning News.
Lemon said he hopes his work has evolved over time.
“Maybe at some fundamental level all poems are about love and death—but my first book, Mosquito, was very about the medical trauma of my early twenties,” Lemon said. “The poems were more narrative. Each successive book changed, hopefully grew larger, both in style and content. The Wish Book, my most recent poetry collection, deals with some of the same themes—what it means to be alive, what it means to love the people and the world you inhabit, etc.—but the guiding force of the book is fatherhood. Most of the poems were written in the time leading up to and in the year after the birth of my son, Felix, who is now three. What’s up, Felix?”
He plans to read new poems and selected works from “The Wish Book” at the poetry reading.
Another featured poet, Tyler Mills said her childhood and past experiences led her to become a published author.
“I come from a family of visual artists,” Mills said. “When I was young, I was surrounded by people who cared deeply about art, and worked at it, day in and day out. I think that at a young age, I learned that art—any art form—really requires discipline. With writing, it’s just you and the page.”
Mills said that she has always been a writer, but began sending her work out for publication while in college. She said she was rejected 60 times before her first publication.
“I began sending my poems out when I was an undergraduate,” Mills said. “I wasn’t ready, but in a way, it helped toughen me up so I could be prepared for the rejection that is a reality for all writers, at any stage of the game.”
Mills has one published book, “Tongue Lyre,” which was released in 2013. She has also poetry published in three anthologies, as well as published book and poetry reviews.
Both poets said they look forward to sharing their work at Rozz Tox on Sept. 12.
“My understanding is that the event will be pretty much the most awesome thing to happen, ever. Or, at least it will be super fun,” Lemon said.

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Rozz Tox to feature local poets