All Things Considered is featuring an interview with Lemon Andersen—who is half Puerto Rican and half Norwegian—about growing up fighting in the projects, life inside of Rikers and how he found his way out with poetry.
So, how did Lemon save himself?
“I was in a juvenile detention center at Rikers Island and there was an anthology written by the inmates called The Pen, and, you know, I had a crush on a girl and she left me when I was incarcerated, and I found this poem in this anthology that talked about having your heart broken and being incarcerated, so I related to the poem so much that I started to take on more poetry. And I found out that poetry was really beautiful at putting these thoughts and words together when you couldn’t do it yourself. … It showed up like a boss, like when you’re looking for a job, and you’re knocking on all these doors and no one wants to hire you, and you’re tainted with a past, so poetry showed up. … Then I found out that poetry and theater have had a relationship for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, so I am part of carrying that torch.”
Listen to all of Lemon Andersen’s interview at NPR.org.
Watch the LEMON documentary trailer, below: