A moving lecture and inspiring poetry from Lemn Sissay
A giant whale, growing up in care, identity and name – you might wonder what links all of these subjects together.
Last week, Huddersfield Literature Festival patron, Lemn Sissay MBE, gave a free lecture at the University of Huddersfield. It was moving, funny and inspiring – beautifully delivered with heart and passion.
He began with a long poem about letting go, wonderfully performed, which started with the idea that the protagonist could not, should not let go but ended with the realisation that letting go can be a liberating feeling.
He then went on to talk about an arts project for the Greenwich Festival in London, involving a lifesize whale that people were led to believe had been beached on the shores of Greenwich, but which in fact was not real – then read the poem he created speaking as the voice of the whale.
Following this, the majority of the lecture delved into the idea of identity, in particular what it’s like to grow up in care, including finding out as you leave that the name on your birth certificate is not the one you have been called for the past 18 years. Thought provoking and moving, it showed that Lemn Sissay has had a lot of issues to grapple with from his upbringing and it’s all credit to the poet that he has gone on to achieve so much in his life – inspiring others along the way.
As Festival Director, I introduced myself to him afterwards and we very much hope to hold an event with Lemn next March at the 2014 Festival.
Picture shows Lemn Sissay with Festival Director Michelle Hodgson