My Name Is Why Not.

News just in from Bookseller: My name Is Why is on the Gordon Burn Prize Longlist.

Wherever you are in the world please come to the online event.  on  Saturday 20th   I will be  at Emirates Literature Festival  Click photo below.

On Sunday July 5th. I will be at Bradford Literature festival speaking with Christopher Ecclestone about our working class roots.Click photo below. From Dubai to Bradford.

20th is the last date for twitter based #poetrycomp.  Tweet a climate themed micropoem with hashtag #Micropoem20 to enter. First place = £500. Two runners up =£250 

As lockdown lifts bookshops are opening.  The Paperback of My Name is Why is out in July. Here’s a few words people have said about My Name Is Why which (only seven months ago) was chosen as a Book of the Year in:  The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Observer , Daily Mail, New Statesman Sunday Express ,  The Herald,  and Metro

 A lyrical, painful and yet hope-filled memoir . . . Shattering, light-searching – Observer

Searing . . . Unputdownable . . . My Name Is Why is authentic and beautiful, a potential game-changer in public attitudes to children raised in care. It’s about bureaucratic cruelty and what happens when love is absent. Don’t miss it – The Times

Foyles Bookshop in central london

The most amazing thing about this book is that it’s not made up. This actually happened. It is an incredible story – BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH

I have never read a memoir like it. A blistering account of a young life in the hands of neglectful authorities. It’s a quest for understanding, for home, for answers. Grips like a thriller. Astounding – MATT HAIG

The great triumph of this work comes from its author’s determination to rail against what he rightly diagnoses as this institutionally endorsed disremembering of black and marginalised experience. It is a searing and unforgettable re-creation of the most brutal of beginnings – Michael Donkor, Guardian

Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton at Foundling museum. March 19th

Utterly devastating and beautiful . . . Breathtakingly written – DOLLY ALDERTON

This is a deeply moving memoir that speaks with incredible poeticism. A staggering exposé of colonial theft and abandonment, this book is grippingly heartbreaking – DAVID LAMMY

Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Dr Abiy Ahmed appointed fifty percent female Cabinet, freed Journalists from jail and made peace with Eritrea. He is an example to the world of how to lead through trust and self belief which is exactly what the country needs.

A fascinating memoir . . . So powerful – ELIF SHAFAK

The engaging transfiguring truth of My Name Is Why is like a baptism of truth – leaving you washed clean of lies and reborn in love. Profound in its kindness, intelligence and unselfish heart, this book is important and unputdownable – JESSICA HYNES

Foyles Bookshop Central London

I read My Name Is Why in one sitting, crying and crying and smiling and shaking, gobsmacked at how Lemn Sissay was treated and what he went through. I am in awe of him and his strength and kindness, and the true gentleness that shines through him. What a book. Heartbreaking and raw and stark and beautiful – LISA FAULKNER

Searing . . . heartbreaking . . . Sissay has given us a blistering condemnation of the ‘care’ system – and his powerful voice asking ‘why?’ is raised on behalf of all children who have been its victims – Daily Mail

This audience is here for one thing – poetry –  in the centre of addis ababa at The Ras Hotel.

Remarkable . . . Sissay puts forward his side of his life story. It is sensational stuff told with an elegant restraint that leaves the reader feeling some of the hurt, bewilderment and anger that he has endured . . . My Name Is Why is a memoir of identity, race, neglect, family and the importance of home. It is also a testament to Sissay himself and his ability to survive, and later thrive. Above all, is it his redemptive chance to ensure that at long last the voice of the child he was is heard – Sunday Times

Home in Central Manchester

No Government Inquiry could ever expose the inhumanity of our nation’s care system more effectively than this memoir. The evidence is all here. I wept at the sheer monumental cruelty of it. The racism. The crushing, degrading absence of respect and encouragement. The simple yearning for love and a sense of self. Lemn Sissay is a triumph of human survival. Shame on all of us that this happens in our midst – HELENA KENNEDY QC

Inspirational . . . My Name Is Why shows how resilience, determination and courage can be used to drive yourself forward to make a difference – DAME FLOELLA BENJAMIN

Rich Mix East London

A brave and beautiful book – ROBERT WEBB

This book is a terrifying, saddening, anger-making read. I hope millions of people will read it – MICHAEL ROSEN

London England

I worked for years with children in the care system, I trained social workers and foster parents. I thought I knew the worst. I was wrong. What Lemn Sissay has done is to tell the truth, not only for himself but for the thousands of adults and children who have been shunted around, who have had their needs ignored, their rights trampled on and have been overlooked. Following a heartbroken child, full of yearning and deserving of love, when his time in care brought anything but that, is not for the faint-hearted. But there are people (and I’m one of them) who will be cheering on every page because of Lemn’s bravery and resilience in telling this story, in providing data, documents, signatures, pages and pages of evidence giving us strange comfort, a deep-seated cheer of recognition and truth. And Lemn Sissay the person shines through it all, his unflinching honesty, his attention to detail, his humour and bravery. Thank God for him – KIT DE WAAL

If you ever thought poetry and song lyrics were the stuff of teenage angst, think again. For Lemn Sissay, they were a lifeline. Amidst the collage of reports, letters, emails, lies, distortions and concealments, his love of language sings. An unsettling, exquisite, searingly intelligent quest for identity – PATIENCE AGBABI

Princeton University United states

A gorgeous and beautifully written triumph of hope, intelligence and resilience over multiple and varied cruelties – CATHY RENTZENBRINK

Utterly extraordinary – MISHA GLENNY

Everybody should read My Name Is Why – utterly devastating and yet uplifting – you find yourself humbled by the spirit that is Lemn Sissay – JACKIE KAY

China – Hunan Normal University

An extraordinary book, compelling and devastating and utterly humane – PHILIPPE SANDS

Coventry England

The most beautiful, sobering, hopeful, tragic, poetical memoir you’ll ever read – DEBORAH FRANCES-WHITE

It is a miracle that Lemn is here at all, still standing, thriving, creating, encouraging, opening channels of comprehension, dissent and hope; shining light on darkness – ADJOA ANDOH

This book is an amazing piece of work and truth – MIRANDA SAWYER

Extraordinarily moving – ELIZABETH DAY

Lemn Sissay is a man for whom emotions become embroidered onto the page. The largely loveless formative years that he endured in the care system has produced a man so adept at conveying love and truth through stanzas, that you could be mistaken for thinking he experienced an altogether different childhood – NIHAL ARTHANAYAKE

Compelling, moving and brilliant. If you find it difficult to see the world from a child’s viewpoint, this will help – PHILIPPA PERRY

India – Mathrubhumi Literature Festival,

I got hold of Lemn Sissay’s book at 10pm last night, finished already. Highly recommended. Order this book now – ROBIN INCE

My Name is Why is an eviscerating read. I wept, I thought of the many ways to cage and uncage a human soul, and I cheered – for Lemn and for poetry – TISHANI DOSHI

Australia – Byron Bay Literature festival

This powerful and unflinchingly honest memoir has so much to say about the failures of our system and the silences of our society – being black, being in foster care, the struggle for identity, belonging, equality and dignity . . . A must-read book for anyone who refuses to be “defined by darkness” and injustice – ELIF SHAFAK, Guardian, Books of the Year

A devastating personal history – i

 A truly powerful memoir, this is as real as it gets – JENNI FAGAN

Cape Town – On stage at YPO reading a poem written for the occassion on the subect of “RE:”


2 thoughts on “My Name Is Why Not.

  1. Saw your story on BBC Imagine tonight, cant stop thinking about you & all u went through. How you survived and are still that beautiful boy with the sparkling eyes

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