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Lemn Sissay

47 Podcast Episodes

Latest 26 Nov 2022 | Updated Daily

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“I’m digging and I need an answer” with Lemn Sissay

Beautiful Misfits

Lemn Sissay is a poet, a thinker, a rebel. His mother thought she was putting him into temporary foster care as a baby. But he was swallowed up by the system. Then aged 12, he was sent back into it when his adoptive parents kicked him out. Lemn grew up alone in so many ways. But alongside this pain there was beauty and light in the form of creativity. Lemn has built an impressive career, but more importantly, he’s a truly soulful man. This conversation hit me powerfully – and Lemn is a true Beautiful Misfit. As he says, the question anyone who identifies as “unique” should ask is, “do you give yourself the permission to explore that?”Follow Mary Portas on: Instagram: @maryportasofficial Facebook: Mary Portas And to get in touch with team Portas, email us at: beautifulmisfits@portasagency.com and you can subscribe to the Portas POV Newsletter for musings, provocation insights and inspiration.


15 Sep 2022

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Lemn Sissay: My life in five dishes

The Food Chain

The internationally acclaimed poet and playwright Lemn Sissay OBE shares the story of his life by recalling five memorable dishes. His is an extraordinary story of family, and identity, lost and found. Born to an Ethiopian mother in the north of England and quickly placed into long-term foster care, Lemn was, for years, deprived of any knowledge of his heritage. His traumatic upbringing and subsequent search for his family and identity have informed much of his award-winning writing. In this programme, he tells Ruth Alexander about five memorable dishes that act as “positioning points” in his life to date. If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk (Picture: Lemn Sissay holding a cup of coffee. Credit: BBC) Producer: Elisabeth Mahy Researcher: Siobhan O’Connell


29 Jun 2022

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An Identity Erased: Lemn Sissay, Author of “My Name Is Why”

The Imprint Weekly

On this week’s episode we discuss the Biden administration’s possible crackdown on the use conversion therapy, Los Angeles’ new child welfare director, and a promising new legal clinic for mothers of newborns. Lemn Sissay, chancellor of the University of Manchester, was stolen from his mother by the U.K. care system, renamed Norman, and placed with a family he was told was his forever but who callously discarded him as an adolescent. The award-winning poet and writer joins us to talk about growing up in care, the social worker who made a difference in his childhood, and much more. Reading RoomStability Now! Getting Proactive About the Child Welfare WorkforceRegister for Free!https://imprintnews.org/webinarsExecutive Order on Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Individualshttps://bit.ly/3OtkbDjEnding Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youthhttps://bit.ly/3bbXhlpHHS Leader Rafael López: It’s Time to Flip the Script on Child Welfarehttps://bit.ly/3QvTC1NChild Welfare Leaders Sign on to Letter Urging States to Ban Conversion Therapyhttps://bit.ly/3bavMstDecision Backing Conversion Therapy Inches Controversy Closer to U.S. Supreme Courthttps://bit.ly/3zNRMncLongtime County Official Tapped to Lead Los Angeles Child Welfare Agencyhttps://bit.ly/3tC9YMAKeeping Moms With Their Newborns: A Team of Washington Lawyers and Advocates Works to Avoid Foster Care Separation at Birthhttps://bit.ly/3MWZApEMy Name Is Why, by Lemn Sissayhttps://bit.ly/3OkSVXt


20 Jun 2022

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Episode 31a: Rebel Without Applause by Lemn Sissay

Dead Darlings

In the latest Bookclub episode, Laurie, Hannah and Rebecca chat about Rebel Without Applause by Lemn Sissay.Copies of the book are available here: https://canongate.co.uk/books/201-rebel-without-applause/


9 Jun 2022

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5 Big Questions: LEMN SISSAY OBE

The Possibility Club

How do you let others have the good ideas? Should you give up smoking if you're going to read to children? Are you bad busy or good busy? In this week’s 5 Big Questions interview we talk to poet, playwright, broadcaster and campaigner LEMN SISSAY OBE Twitter: @lemnsissay Known for: Chancellor - University of Manchester (UK) Trustee - Foundling Museum Official Poet - London 2012 Olympic Games Winner - PEN Pinter Prize (2019) Guest Artistic Director - Brighton Festival 2020 & 2021 Author - My Name Is Why Author - The Emperor's Watchmaker Playwright - Why I Don't Hate White People Playwright - Refugee Boy The Big 5 Questions: How do you measure the impact of what you do? How should people/businesses be preparing for the future? How do we build the workforce we need for that future? How do you use creativity to solve problems? How do you collaborate? Key quotes: “I tried to take the word ‘busy’ out of my dictionary some years ago, because I’m doing what I love.” "Art refuses to disappear because human beings refuse to disappear.” “I’ve come to realise later in life that you’ve got to give it away to keep it. It’s the strangest thing but if you need help, try helping someone else.” “I went from smoking thirty a day to none, on the tenth January. I’d been stinky most of my adult life.” “I am proud to be a creative and artist and writer and I think that creativity is not only the monopoly of artists.” “I’m learning to be quiet and to listen — and to listen beyond just the first idea. It’s a much more fulfilling way to work, with a group who are looking how to make an idea happen.” “Teamwork isn’t just people that I choose.”   Useful links: website: // www.lemnsissay.com/ Wikipedia: // wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemn_Sissay Brighton Festival Director legacy page: // brightonfestival.org/about-the-festival/past-guest-directors/20202021-lemn-sissay-mbe/ Lemn Sissay — Don’t Ask The Dragon (children’s book) // hive.co.uk/Product/Lemn-Sissay/Dont-Ask-the-Dragon/26765413 Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking (Amazon link) // amazon.co.uk/Allen-Carrs-Easy-Stop-Smoking/dp/1405923318/ Jude Kelly (Wikipedia) // wikipedia.org/wiki/Jude_Kelly Extinction Rebellion // extinctionrebellion.uk/ Sex Pistols — Never Mind The Bollocks (Spotify link) // spotify.com/album/6ggO3YVhyonYuFWUPBRyIv?si=CGb49HRcT_Wk3s7SpWqhpA Lawrence Ferlinghetti (Wikipedia) // wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Ferlinghetti Leftfield — Leftism 22 (Spotify link) // spotify.com/album/60ZB7LXiHfzipDY4EME38o?si=6SwMMSw8S_-QwHCqiIfqOQ City Lights books // citylights.com/ Lemn Sissay — My Name Is Why (memoir) // hive.co.uk/Product/Lemn-Sissay/My-Name-Is-Why/24742388 Lemn Sissay — Something Dark (memoir / theatre script) // hive.co.uk/Product/Lemn-Author-Sissay/Something-Dark/21234053 Lemn Sissay — Morning Breaks In The Elevator (poetry) // hive.co.uk/Product/Lemn-Sissay/Morning-Breaks-In-The-Elevator/2568872 This episode was recorded in April 2022 Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts


6 May 2022

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S3 Lemn Sissay: ‘I only knew the importance of family by not having it’

How Do You Cope? …with Elis and John

This week Elis and John are joined by poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay to discuss growing up in the care system and the journey to his identity.This episode contains strong language. Details of organisations that can provide help and support on some of the issues raised in this episode or the rest of the series are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline.

1hr 25mins

3 May 2022

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Lemn Sissay


"At 18, I didn't know anyone that knew me for longer than a year." Award-winning poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay talks about his experience of growing up in care, what our names mean to us and his new children's book, Don't Ask The Dragon.


28 Mar 2022

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Gold from the Stone—an interview with Lemn Sissay

Let's Talk Social Work

In this special extended episode, made for World Social Work Day 2022, Lemn Sissay, poet, playwright, broadcaster and Chancellor of the University of Manchester, speaks with Andy McClenaghan about his experience of growing up in care. Reflecting on the ways the care system failed him as a child, Lemn discusses the vital importance of the social work role and considers how social workers can better support looked after children and care leavers.For information on Lemn's memoir, 'My Name is Why', visit https://canongate.co.uk/books/2450-my-name-is-why/ Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

1hr 8mins

15 Mar 2022

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Lemn Sissay (OBE)

Changes with Annie Macmanus

Can you imagine not knowing anything about your family, being rejected by the one you thought you knew and, at 17, finding out your real name and that your mother did in fact want you? In honour of Care Day, the world's largest celebration of the successes and achievements of children and young people with experience of care, which took place on Friday, we welcome to Changes, the hugely celebrated poet, writer and phenomenal human, Lemn Sissay. A man who was stolen from his mother, rejected by his foster family and moved through the care system from one brutal institution to the next. Lemn is now a BAFTA nominated International prize winning writer and was appointed an OBE in the 2021 Birthday Honours for services to literature and charity. In this episode, Lemn recounts in detail the physical journeys he took when being driven away from his foster family, the only life he knew and, later in life, travelling to meet his mother for the first time in Africa. It is deeply moving.  Lemn’s unique and incredible story of determination as well as his perspective on the concept of family, home and how we can improve care for children are both humbling and incredibly important. Here Lemn shares his unbelievable story with Annie, his most recent changes and his relationship now to the word ‘Care’.  Lemn’s incredible Memoir, My Name Is Why was a number one Sunday Times Bestseller. You can buy it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Name-Why-Lemn-Sissay/dp/1786892340His new children's book Don’t Ask The Dragon can be pre ordered here (released Friday 24th February 2022) https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09DZ477R5/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i4Visit Lemn’s exhibition at the Foundling Museumhttps://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/event/superman-was-a-foundling/ You can find out more about Care Day here: https://careday.org/ Content: Abuse, neglect, racism, addiction. Should you be affected by anything raised in this episode, there is help on hand. In the UK, The Samaritans can be reached on 116 123. You can also contact Mind on 0300 123 3393 or head to mind.org.uk. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.


21 Feb 2022

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Lemn Sissay: My Name is Why

Best of the Emirates LitFest

Lemn Sissay knows more than most what it takes to change the story. Until he was seventeen he didn’t even know his real name, having been brought up in a succession of foster families and care homes against his mother’s wishes. In his memoir My Name is Why, the award-winning writer and poet tells the story of his fight for justice and finding hope and creativity while caught in an uncaring and dangerous bureaucracy. In this wide-ranging and inspiring conversation, Lemn reflects on the response to his powerful book, his writing life and his discoveries about life and culture in difficult times.

1hr 8mins

12 Oct 2021