Lemn Sissay MBE

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Poet, Playwright, Broadcaster

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Taking in poetry, radio and stage plays, and public art, Lemn's work frequently takes a passionate, insightful view of society, identiy, race, and how experiences in childhood shape our adult lives. Raised in care and and the product of a disrupted upbringing, Lemn now gives a voice to the marginalised and explores themes vital to society  


Lemn Sissay is a poet, artist, writer and broadcaster. He has produced several books of poetry alongside numerous articles, records, public art, documentaries and plays and is one of Britain’s leading artistic voices. Much of his work focuses on identity, social division, race, and giving a voice to those often lost or overlooked by society.

After a remarkable early life of foster care, children’s homes and lost identity, a story movingly recounted by Lemn in his play Something Dark as well as a BBC documentary, he started working in a community publishers in Manchester. A few years later he published his first poetry collection and was performing his work around the world. He has since become a widely-acclaimed author, performer, artist and commentator working on a vast range of projects.

As a visual artist, Lemn combines his powerful words with simple, monumental imagery. His work has been displayed at the Royal Academy alongside Tracey Emin and Antony Gormley and his public piece Guilt of Cain was unveiled by Desmond Tutu in its location in the City of London.

Lemn has made radio and TV programmes on artists from Gil Scott Heron to JB Priestley and appeared on everything from Grumpy Old Men to coverage of the the BBC Proms. He has served as the official poet of London 2012 and of the FA Cup. He has been appointed as an associate artist at Southbank Centre and Chancellor of the University of Manchester. He has spoken at the World Health Organisation’s International Conference, Womad, and the Edinburgh Book Festival. He has worked with musicians from Jarvis Cocker to Ryuichi Sakamoto to Leftfield.

As well as performing his work, Lemn also hosts workshops and sessions covering everything from the power of words and stories to uncovering and encouraging creativity. He is also a passionate speaker and campaigner on, and advocate of education and equality, in particular raising awareness of the long-term effects of a disrupted childhood.

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