One of the borough’s most successful literary sons has released a new book of poems from throughout his acclaimed career.
Lemn Sissay, who was fostered by an Atherton couple and then spent his teenage years in the Wigan care system, has collected stanzas from throughout his work for new collection Gold from the Stone.
His first new anthology for almost a decade, Gold from the Stone brings together Lemn’s latest writings with some of his best-loved poems from his previous books.
The book therefore enables readers to trace Lemn’s extraordinary journey to becoming one of Britain’s best-known artistic and cultural voices.
He wrote his first collection of poems aged just 17 and, after getting them printed through a small independent company, sold copies of it to miners and millworkers all over the borough.
Since then he has gone on to become the official poet of London’s 2012 Olympic Games, written a poem about the FA Cup which was shown on the big screen during the final at Wembley Stadium and had his words emblazoned on buildings and public spaces across the world.
He achieved further success last year when he was appointed as Chancellor of the University of Manchester, and this year performed his poem Listening Post at a national ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of The Battle of the Somme.
Lemn has also regularly appeared in recent years on BBC radio, including a comic programme he wrote about the idea of home and an emotional appearance on the iconic show Desert Island Discs.
The newest poems in Gold from the Stone cover some of the topics he has discussed in the last few years, such as dealing with his Ethiopian heritage and growing up as an ethnic minority in Wigan and Leigh. Alongside the poems about his own journey of discovery are works on subjects ranging from everyday life to love and hate, prejudice to politics.
Lemn has also hit the road this autumn to promote the new collection, appearing at venues and festivals across the UK including London, Bristol, Nottingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Cheltenham.
He also performed at Reading Gaol on September 18 in a project called De Profundis, with artists submitting work inspired by famous writer Oscar Wilde’s time spent in jail there.
Lemn’s contribution to art and culture was recognised by honorary doctorates from the universities of Huddersfield and Manchester and an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen.
He is also patron of the Letterbox Club, which supports children in care, and has had work featured at the Royal Academy.
Gold from the Stone is out now. To find out more visit www.lemnsissay.com