An award-winning playwright and popular broadcaster in the UK, as well as the author of five poetry books, Lemn Sissay has a way with words.
Lemn Sissay wears many hats as a writer and performer.
The author of five poetry collections, Sissay's poems dot the London landscape and are etched into major landmarks, from the site of the 2012 Summer Olympics to The Royal Festival Hall. In 2006, Desmond Tutu unveiled his sculpture poem "Gilt of Cain," located near Fenchurch Street Station. Currently an associate artist at Southbank Centre and patron of the Letterbox Club, Sissay was named the official poet of the London 2012 Olympics. His poetry art has also been displayed at The Royal Academy.
Sissay is perhaps best known for his work for the BBC, which shines a spotlight on his upbringing as a foster child in the UK. In 1995, he shared his story in the BBC documentary Internal Flight and his BBC radio documentary Child of the State was nominated for a 2010 Sony Award. His play Something Dark charts his quest to find his family. After a long search, he located his birth mom in Gambia and has since come to know the rest of his family.
“Looked after children — fostered, adopted or orphaned — [often] grow into their adult lives in fear of speaking of their background, as if it may somehow weaken their standing in the foreground.”
“You can define how strong a democracy is by how its government treats … the child of the state.”
“Dysfunction is a true reaction to untruth.”
“The adoption process [in 1960s Britain was] an industrious, utilitarian solution: the government, the farmer; the adopting parents, the consumer; the mother, the Earth; and the child, the crop.”