Feedback from Los Angeles

Here’s a short piece of feedback by a student at a school in Los Angeles where I spent the day.

Jan 31, 2008

Friday Hero

It was a Friday, and just like any other Friday in the world of AVID, we were having a speaker. Lemn Sissay was our speaker for that Friday. I can honestly say he was the best speaker we had ever had. He captivated not only me, but possibly the entire audience with his humor and amazing poems.

Not only was Lemn Sissay funny, but he was also a wonderful educator. I can never forget this repeated use of “Can I touch your hair?” which began as a story but soon turned into an allusion to the racial barriers in England.  I can describe everything I learned about Lemn that day, everything he told us and I can describe exactly how he performed each poem with the perfect amount of energy, but unless you’ve experienced Lemn yourself, you won’t understand exactly how inspiring his presence is. As I sit here trying to figure out how to exactly put Lemn’s spirit into words I can only come up with one conclusion: I can’t. Lemn Sissay isn’t a person meant to be described through words, he is a person meant to be experienced.

I remember after he left, I was dying to hear more of him, from him. I felt like handcuffing myself to him so he can tell me his whole entire life. So he could recite his life story all the way from beginning to end and then again, but backwards. I was willing to follow him to every period and listen to him talk, regardless the fact that he would be saying the same
things over and over again.

Sadly, I only heard Lemn speak for my first period class and that was it. Even though I wanted to here more of him, I can honestly say that the one period he spoke to my class was definitely more than enough. When I went to my six period class that day, Ms. Duff told me and my friend Sharon that Lemn was stuck in school because the parking lot had been locked. She sent us to him, with the key, to help him out. When we got there we saw poor Lemn and his friend sadly waiting in the sun. Lemn was sitting on the ground with his pack pressed against the wall. He had squeezed himself to fit behind the shadow produced by the basketball poles.  As we got nearer, I could imagine a face beginning to appear on his face. I can’t really say I saw it because I wasn’t wearing my glasses and I unfortunately have bad eyesight, but I could defiantly imagine a smile on his face. As we
approached with the key he stood up and said “You guys saved my life.” I felt like a hero, but little did he know, for that day, he was my hero.

3 thoughts on “Feedback from Los Angeles

  1. Hey Lemn! I'm from one of the AVID classes you spoke to in MC. It sure was a fabulous day and I couldn't forget it- EVER! You were such a very inspiring and unforgettable guest speaker.(: In fact, everyone agreed to me that you were the BEST one we've ever heard from. Before I left tutoring after school, I talked to a few teachers and friends. We would love to have you come back to our school again but the thing is you live far. So, we were joking around about flying to England instead! Haha. You touched our hearts and inspired us with your stories and poems. We loved your humor and wit. You also helped me appreciate poetry because I honestly didn't think of how awesome it was before. Oh and I ordered a book. I wonder when I'm getting it. Haha. Wishing you the best of everything!

  2. When are you coming to New York (City)? Please post here before your trip?
    Note that I'm not asking if you're coming to New York … how can you not come to New York? It's not even about the city. How can you possibly leave this side of the continent Lemm-less? I mean, lemin? 🙂
    It seems you're enjoying LA. Best wishes.

  3. I have been to NY many times. Made a documentary about the Last Poets and interviewed Gil Scott Heron at his home in Harlem also Abioudun Oyewole of The Last Poets. But I have never “performed” there. Ridiculous really.

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