Lemn Sissay OBE

BAFTA Nominated International Prize Winning Writer, Former Chancellor of The University of Manchester & Official Poet for the 2012 London Olympics

  • Won the UK Commission for Racial Equality in the Media Award for Something Dark
  • Appointed OBE for services to literature and charity
  • Winner of the prestigious PEN Pinter Prize in 2019
  • Judge on the Booker Prize Panel
  • Appeared at the British Film Institute and the Royal Academy
  • TEDxHouses of Parliament, A Child of The State

Discover Lemn Sissay OBE’s biography of published work below.

My Name is Why
My Name Is Why
Gold From the Stone
Gold From The Stone: New And Selected Poems
The Club on The Edge of Town
The Club on The Edge of Town: A Pandemic Memoir

Lemn Sissay is a renowned poet, playwright and broadcaster who takes inspiration from his childhood upbringing and major global events. A distinguished wordsmith who was the official poet of the 2012 London Olympics, Lemn has performed on prestigious stages worldwide. Able to capture profound emotions in his literary works, Lemn also delivers impactful presentations as a speaker, where he candidly speaks about growing up in foster care, mental health, resilience and hope.

After his mother gave birth to him, Lemn was placed in foster care with strictly religious parents in Lancashire. When he reached the age of 12, his foster parents decided to place him in a children’s home, informing him that they would cease all contact with him. A highly traumatic experience for a 12-year-old, exacerbated by the instability from repeatedly changing homes. After a few years, Lemn reached the legal age and was given an old letter from his mum and his birth certificate, which showed his Ethiopian name. The letter initiated a search for his mother, ending with him finding her in Gambia after years of searching.

Having led a tumultuous upbringing, Lemn took to writing to express his emotions, publishing his first poetry pamphlet at 17. Starting a new life in Manchester, he joined Commonword as a writer, where he was able to develop his writing skills. This led to him publishing his first poetry book at 21, titled Perceptions of the Pen. His captivating play, Something Dark, which describes his time in foster care, was adapted to BBC Radio 3. Gaining widespread coverage, it won the UK Commission for Racial Equality in the Media Award. His other notable works have been featured on BBC Radio 4, Channel 4 and several festivals, including the Wise Words Festival 2018. He has also appeared at the British Film Institute and the Royal Academy.

In recognition of his services to literature and charity, in 2010, he was appointed MBE, and in 2021, he was elevated to OBE. He also served as the Chancellor of the University of Manchester and currently sits on the board of trustees for the Foundling Museum. Moreover, Lemn won the prestigious PEN Pinter Prize in 2019 and served as a Booker Prize Panel judge. One of the most accomplished poets of the 21st century, Lemn is a master of the spoken word, expressing difficult emotions in his literature. In his speaking engagements, he captivates audiences with anecdotes of his time in foster care, covering sensitive topics such as mental health, resilience and hope.

To enquire about Lemn Sissay OBE for your event or corporate function, simply contact us via agent@diversity-inclusion-speakers.com or call a booking agent on 0203 9816 297.