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WATCH: Our Chancellor tells his story on BBC

07 Dec 2017

Lemn Sissay explains, when I had no family as a child the writing of poetry would act as memory

Lemn Sissay

Our Chancellor, renowned poet and playwright Lemn Sissay MBE has spoken of his quest to understand his past and piece together his identity through his work in a BBC news programme.

Lemn was abandoned as a baby, rejected by his foster family and abused in public institutions of care. Through his challenge to make sense of this, he found a remarkable poetic voice.

He told Hardtalk on the BBC News channel: “When I had no family as a child, the writing of poetry would act as memory so that I could remember where I had been, who I had been with and what I had felt at any given time in my childhood. That’s what family does and in lieu of that, poetry allowed me to say, oh I was there then.”

And he said performing his poems was important so that the “chemical compound of the poem” – written in solitude – “blows into fireworks and sheds light”.

To watch the whole interview, visit: