A memoir with a message – about growing up in care and finding hope, determination and creativity – from British poet and national treasure Lemn Sissay
At the age of seventeen, after a childhood in a foster family followed by six years in care homes, Norman Greenwood was given his birth certificate. He learned that his real name was not Norman. It was Lemn Sissay. He was British and Ethiopian. And he learned that his mother had been pleading for his safe return to her since his birth.This is Lemn’s story; a story of neglect and determination, misfortune and hope, cruelty and triumph.Sissay reflects on a childhood in care, self-expression and Britishness, and in doing so explores the institutional care system, race, family and the meaning of home. Written with all the lyricism and power you would expect from one of the nation’s best-loved poets, this moving, frank and timely memoir is the result of a life spent asking questions, and a celebration of the redemptive power of creativity.
“PRAISE FOR LEMN SISSAY: One of the most original, challenging poets writing in Britain today, and his extraordinary, heart-breaking, courageous life story is the stuff of legend”
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“Highly personal themes reach out far beyond his individual experiences to highlight the universal nature of rejection, loss, dislocation and healing”
Kirsty Young, Bbc Radio 4 Desert Island Discs
“Lemn Sissay is a passionate and powerful voice whose performances are humbling and exhilarating”
“His gift as a writer - of plays, poetry, documentaries - is for turning life’s base metal into gold”
“Traces [Sissay’s] path from gifted adolescent to accomplished poetic voice, railing with passion and prowess against the “quiet violence of the day-to-day”“
Lemn Sissay is an award-winning writer and popular broadcaster as well as being the author of five poetry books. He was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Huddersfield and the University of Manchester. He was awarded an MBE by the Queen for services to literature. He was the official poet for the London 2012 Olympics. He has worked throughout the world and is patron of the Letterbox Club, supporting children in care. His Landmark poems can be found in London, Manchester, Huddersfield and Addis Ababa. In 2015 he was appointed Chancellor of the University of Manchester. He is British and Ethiopian.
@lemnsissay | lemnsissay.com