His name has been mooted for the position of Poet Laureate, taking over from Carol Ann Duffy based just down the road from the University where he sits as Chancellor, but he’s already pretty much the poet laureate of Manchester (sorry, Tony), making his mark with his Tib Street pavement poems and his Landmark Poetry, including ‘Rain’ on Gemini chippy and ‘Hardy’s Well’ on the now closed Rusholme pub of the same name. How Lemn Sissay MBE finds the time to fit in any writing is beyond us, but write he does – including special commissions for the likes of Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry, Chester Storyhouse and the 2012 London Olympics.
Hot off the heels of what was his first poetry publication in eight years, the much-anticipated collection of new and old work, Gold From The Stone, Lemn is gearing up to launch a memoir, My Name Is Why, out with Canongate in August. Exploring his early life in the institutional care system, and its impact on his take on race, family and the meaning of home, Lemn will be chatting about the book with fellow writer and DJ Dave Haslam in this event exclusive to Didsbury Arts Festival.
Dave Haslam’s new book takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride (we had a sneak peek) of the “passions and pleasures… moments of rapture, and moments of regret” that come hand-in-hand with gathering together must-haves
Not for the first time the pair have appeared on stage together – if memory serves us correctly, Dave chaired an event with Lemn back in 2016. And Dave (see also Altrincham Word Festival) is pretty prolific in the writing stakes himself. His recent acclaimed autobiography Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor has just come out in paperback and he’s begun work on a new series of “mini-books” called Art Decades. Published by Didsbury-based Confingo (who you’ll find at the Victoria Baths Weekend Of Words festival), A Life In 35 Boxes: How I Survived Selling My Record Collection looks at the highs and heartbreak of collecting and our impulse to own and our subsequent emotional attachment to certain “things”. It takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride (we had a sneak peek) of the “passions and pleasures… moments of rapture, and moments of regret” that come hand-in-hand with gathering together must-haves.
For this special double bill, Dave will be reading from both Sonic Youth… and his new work A Life In 35 Boxes, and Lemn will be reading some of his poems. Together they will talk about their very different writing lives and there will be an opportunity for an audience Q&A before the two have a book-signing session.
Didsbury Arts Festival celebrates a landmark 10-year birthday this time round, and has more than 100 events packed into the nine days from 22 to 30 June. Be sure to check out the programme for plenty more live literature and writing workshops – we’re excited by the Getting Curious About The Dead: Southern Cemetery Tour led by Emma Fox and Writing Workshop with Tania Hershman on the afternoon of Sunday 23 June, fiction reading and workshop with Sky Hooks and Zero Hours author Neil Campbell at Oxfam later on the same day, a poetry evening with Hilary Robinson and Rachel Davies on Monday 24 June at Expo Lounge, and the official launch of the Some Roast Poet indie press at Art Of Tea on the evening of Tuesday 25 June; the last two, and many more events, are free.
PLEASE NOTE: Advance tickets for Lemn Sissay and Dave Haslam In Conversation have now sold out. Returns may be available on the door at the event. Check Didsbury Arts Festival website for status of other ticket sales.