Lemn Sissay at Leeds Lit Fest

Part of our Literature guide

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Lemn Sissay at Leeds Lit Fest
Lemn Sissay. Photo Paul Crowther.

Lemn Sissay – My Name Is Why at Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds, 3 March 2023, from £22.00 - Book now

As part of Leeds Lit Fest 2023, poet, playwright, memoirist, performer and broadcaster (and until recently the Chancellor of the University of Manchester) Lemn Sissay OBE presents his life story My Name Is Why, at Carriageworks Theatre.

This is the fifth year of Leeds Lit Fest, which, last year, picked up Best Literary Festival at the national Saboteur Awards for a second time.

Lemn Sissay is widely published and has read on stage throughout the world, from the heady heights of Wigan Library to the United States Congress, and he was awarded The PEN Pinter Prize in 2019. Described as a “powerful and inspiring account of the acclaimed poet’s journey from neglect and despair to artistic and cultural recognition”, My Name Is Why was published in 2019 by Canongate and reached number one in The Sunday Times bestseller list.

The book’s blurb explains: “At the age of 17, after a childhood in a fostered 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 a childhood in care, 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.”

This is the fifth year of Leeds Lit Fest, which, last year, picked up Best Literary Festival at the national Saboteur Awards for a second time. This year’s festival is supported by the citywide celebration of culture Leeds 2023, and partner organisations include The Leeds Library, Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds Libraries, The Leeds Big Bookend, Carriageworks Theatre, MILIM, Leeds Church Institute and Strix magazine.

Taking place across a diverse range of the city’s venues, Leeds Lit Fest runs from 25 February to 5 March 2023, and aims to bring together, and help develop, the city’s literary scene, with writers, poets and performers from the UK and beyond. Other events this spring include bestselling author Catriona Ward in conversation with Dan Coxon about all things horror, a special festival edition of spoken word night Chemistry at The Chemic hosted by Joe Williams and headlined by multi-award-winning performance poet Dominic Berry and rising star Kayleigh Campbell, and plenty of workshops, talks and other activities. There’s also a programme of free children’s and family events throughout the week culminating in a full day at Central Library on Saturday 4 March.

Lemn Sissay – My Name Is Why at Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds

3 March 2023 8:00 pm
From £22.00