My Name is Why - Lemn Sissay in conversation with Derek Owusu

Posted: Aug, 5th 2019 Contributor: Bilen Shifferaw,

Blackwell's are delighted to announce that poet and author Lemn Sissay will be with us, in conversation with Derek Owusu, to discuss his new memoir, My Name is Why.

How does a government steal a child and then imprison him? How does it keep it a secret? This story 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 international writer and broadcaster. He has authored collections of poetry and plays. His Landmark poems are visible in London, Manchester, Huddersfield and Addis Ababa. He has been made an Honorary Doctor by the universities of Manchester, Kent, Huddersfield and Brunel. Sissay was awarded an MBE for services to literature and in 2019 he was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize. He is Chancellor of the University of Manchester. He is British and Ethiopian.

Derek Owusu is a writer and co-host of the literary podcast, Mostly Lit. He also mentors young people at Urban Synergy, an award-winning early intervention mentoring charity that helps over 1,000 young people between 11-18 years of age. Derek edited and contributed to the book Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space (2019).

Tickets for this event cost £5. Doors open at 6.45pm at which time there will be a small bar available for the purchasing of drinks. For more information please contact our Customer Service Desk on 01865 333 623 or email

11 September 2019 at 7:30pm - 11 September 2019 at 8:00pm
Blackwell's Bookshop 51 Broad Street Oxford OX1 3BQ
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