Dr Lemn Sissay MBE is associate artist at Southbank Centre, patron of the Letterbox Club and the Reader Organisation, ambassador for the Children’s Reading Fund, trustee of the Forward Arts Foundation and inaugural trustee of World Book Night.
Lemn is author of a series of books of poetry alongside articles, records, broadcasts, public art, commissions and plays. He was the first poet commissioned to write for London Olympics and his Landmark Poems are installed throughout Manchester and London. He describes dawn in one tweet every day. One Morning Tweet became an award winning building, MVMNT Café. It is the only building in the world built below a tweet.
Lemn’s installation poem what if, inspired by his Disko Bay Expedition to the Arctic, was exhibited at the Royal Academy; his 21st century poem was released on Leftfield’s award-winning album Leftism; and a violin concerto performed at The BBC by Viktoria Mullova was inspired by his poem Advice For The Living. His award-winning play Something Dark has been performed throughout the world and his stage adaptation of Benjamin Zephaniah’s novel Refugee Boy tours Britain in 2014. A BBC TV documentary, Internal Flight , and a radio documentary, Child of the State, were both broadcast about his life and his TED Talk has close to a million views.
He was the first Black Writers Development Worker in the North of England, the founder of Cultureword (part of Commonword) and the inspiration for the University of Huddersfield’s Sissay Scholarship for care leavers. He received an MBE for services to literature.
The Guardian heralded the arrival of his first book, Tender Fingers In A Clenched Fist, with the words: “Lemn Sissay has Success written all over his forehead”.