Lemon Andersen is a wordsmith who thinks deeply about the sounds of syllables.

Why you should listen

Lemon Andersen is a poet, spoken word artist and actor. He first garnered national attention appearing in Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway in 2002, which won a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event and netted Andersen a Drama Desk nomination for his writing. Andersen also appeared in eight episodes of HBO’s ode to spoken word, Def Poetry. 

Over the past decade, he has performed in venues across the country, from New York’s Nuyorican Poets Café to Hollywood’s Kodak Theater. He has appeared in four Spike Lee films and was the subject of the documentary Lemon, a look at his journey from two-time felon to bold-faced name -- and how leaving one’s past behind just isn’t that simple.

Most recently, Spike Lee produced Andersen’s one-man play County of Kings at The Public Theater in New York City. Since its premiere in 2009, the play has been staged on three continents, to rave reviews. The script was awarded the New York Book Festival’s Grand Prize. 

Anderson's newest work, ToasT, was commissioned by the Sundance Institute and will be staged at The Public Theater in 2013.

What others say

“Mr. Andersen has a distinctive talent that makes words sing in ways that insist you listen. But it’s the drive that makes him glow. 'Watch me,' he demands, in the first sentence of County of Kings. He guarantees that you do.” — Ben Brantley, The New York Times

Lemon Andersen’s TED talks

Lemon Andersen on the TED Blog

Culture

10 spoken word performances, folded like lyrical origami

December 7, 2012

Spoken word artist Lemon Andersen begins today’s talk with the poem, “Please Don’t Take My Air Jordans,” written by Reg E. Gaines in 1994. My Air Jordans cost a hundred with tax. My suede Starter jacket says Raiders on the back. I’m stylin’, smilin’ looking real mean, Cause it ain’t about bein’ heard. Just about […]

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Quotes from Lemon Andersen

[My] hunger and thirst was, and still remains: How do I get people who hate poetry to love me?
Lemon Andersen
TEDYouth 2011 • 827K views Dec 2012
Inspiring, Beautiful
When you went to a privileged school to learn a Shakespearean sonnet, I was getting those beats kicked and shoved into me.
Lemon Andersen
TEDYouth 2011 • 827K views Dec 2012
Inspiring, Beautiful