Meet the Author: Lemn Sissay

Meet the author of My Name is Why, Lemn Sissay. Event by Griffin Books, Penarth.


Wednesday 1st July, 2020 @ 8:00 pm

  • In Conversation


About the Event

Google the name  “Lemn Sissay” and all the returning hits will be about him because there is only one Lemn Sissay in the world.

We're delighted to announce that the one and only Lemn Sissay, will be joining us for our Meet the Author event on Wednesday 1 July to talk about his bestselling memoir, My Name Is Why. It is a memoir with a message – about growing up in care and finding hope, determination and creativity – from British poet and national treasure Lemn Sissay.


How does a government steal a child and then imprison him? How does it keep that a secret? This book is how...

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 his childhood, 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.


Lemn Sissay is a BAFTA nominated award winning writer, international poet, performer playwright, artist and broadcaster. He has read on stage throughout the world: from The Library of Congress in The United States to The University of Addis Ababa, from Singapore to Sri Lanka, Bangalore to Dubai, from Bali to Greenland AND Wigan library.

He was awarded an MBE for services to literature by The Queen of England. Along with Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie and Margaret Atwood he won a Pen Pinter Prize in 2019. He is Chancellor of The University of Manchester and an Honorary Doctor from The Universities of Huddersfield, Manchester, Kent and Brunei. He is Dr Dr Dr Dr Lemn Sissay. He was the first poet commissioned to write for the London Olympics and poet of the FA Cup.

My Name Is Why will be published in paperback on 2 July 2020.


If you sign up for one of our events facilitated by the Zoom video conferencing platform, you will receive instructions on how to join in advance of the event. You will require a smartphone, laptop or tablet with good internet connection, to access the event via video conferencing. Alternatively, you can dial in and just listen to the event audio using a landline or mobile phone.

About the Book

My Name Is Why
My Name Is Why

Lemn Sissay

Publisher:Canongate Books Ltd

Publication date:26 Apr 2019


4.35 out of 5
10 reviews
"a searing memoir about being brought up in care"
The Times
"It is sensational stuff told with an elegant restraint that leaves the reader feeling some of the hurt, bewilderment and anger that he has endured"
The Sunday Times
"a searing and unforgettable re-creation of the most brutal of beginnings"
The Guardian
"a story of neglect, cruelty and, of course, immense courage"
Daily Mail
"a searing chronicle"
The Guardian
"A beautiful, sometimes heart-breaking but also helpful story"
"a powerful memoir of a childhood in the care system"
New Statesman
"a powerful indictment of our care system"
Literary Review
"an extraordinary story"
The Sunday Times
"a memoir that is both heartbreaking and inspiring"
The Bookseller

A memoir with a message - about growing up in care and finding hope, determination and creativity - from British poet and national treasure Lemn Sissay