Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lemn Sissay

Recently I went to see UK poet and playwright Lemn Sissay. I heard about the event from a professor and after seeing a clip of him, knew that I had to go. Although I missed the beginning of the lecture where he did excerpts from his play, I caught him perform poetry from his books and was awestricken.

I think spoken word poetry is a tricky thing, sometimes when done poorly, it can be mega-cheesy. Unless there is real truth in the poet's story--their poem, no amount of rhythm, rhyme, emphasis or dramatic pauses can connect you to them. But Mr. Lemn Sissay captivates you the second he opens his mouth. Anyways, I'll quit describing it and let you see for yourself:

A little bit of history if you are interested:
Lemn's mother was studying in England when he was born, so she decided to temporarily give him to a foster family. His name was illegally changed to Norman by the social worker assigned to him (who named Lemn after himself) and was placed in foster care with a white family in North West England for 11 years. During this time his mother fought to find Lemn but he had disappeared within the welfare system. Believing that Lemn was evil, his foster parents sent him to a government foster home where he was --once again-- the only African American there, describing the stay as, "prison-like." At 18, he was released and given letters from his mother along with a birth certificate where he discovered his real name: Lemn Sissay (Lemn, ironically meaning, "Why"). He spent his adult life searching for his mother and publishing his poetry-- his first book at age 21 landed him a page in The Guardian that read, “Lemn Sissay has success written all over his forehead.” He eventually found her and discovered he was the product of a rape incident. Here is a post from his blog that gives a little insight to his current family situation: Small talk in the Big Apple.

I hope you enjoy his poems.

Click the audio pic to hear another:

No comments: