Lecture in language
If you Google the name “Lemn Sissay” all the returning hits will be about him. There’s only one person in the world named Lemn Sissay. And we can confirm this fact is quite significant. Lemn Sissay is a BAFTA nominated award winning writer, international poet, performer playwright, artist and broadcaster. He was awarded an MBE for services to literature by The Queen of England. His memoir, My Name Is Why, was published by Canongate in 2019 and became a bestseller. In 2020, he has the honor of being a jury member of the prestigious Booker Prize.
He has read on stage throughout the world: from The Library of Congress in The United States to The University of Addis Ababa, from Singapore to Sri Lanka, Bangalore to Dubai, from Bali to Greenland AND Wigan library. Along with Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie and Margaret Atwood he won a Pen Pinter Prize in 2019. He is Chancellor of The University of Manchester and an Honorary Doctor from The Universities of Huddersfield, Manchester, Kent and Brunei. He is Dr Dr Dr Dr Lemn Sissay. He was the first poet commissioned to write for the London Olympics and poet of the FA Cup. Lemn is also very active in social and mainstream media, runs a blog, regularly posts short morning poems at Twitter and has more than 50.000 devoted followers. He also has written several publications.
His new book, ‚My Name is Why‘ recounts the poet’s early life with a foster family and six years in care homes before being presented with his birth certificate as he left the care system. It was then that Lemn discovered his true name was not Norman but Lemn (which means 'why' in Amharic). This was the beginning of a journey of self-discovery that produced poetry, a play staged at the Royal Theatre and now a book.
His Landmark poems can be found on walls in public spaces around the world from The Royal Festival Hall in London to The British Council Offices in Addis Ababa and throughout his home city of Manchester. His Landmark poem “Gilt of Cain” was unveiled by Bishop Desmond Tutu in The City of London: Sissay’s installation poem ‘what if’ exhibited at The Royal Academy and toured the world in galleries from Tokyo to New York. He lives in London, however Manchester remains his home.
So next time, when your morning looks blue, let him inspire you too...
"How do you do it?" said night
"How do you wake and shine?"
"I keep it simple." said light
"One day at a time."