The distribution of light.

Good morning good afternoon or good evening wherever you are. Today is World  Poetry Day.  The sun is rising in London.  The days are warmer and longer.   In light of the general trend of feeling better  this post is a run down of what’s happening in my life at the moment.    There’s lots to share including  the opportunity to win  £500!    Spring is here.  The gates are opening.  Let’s begin

Illustration by Greg Stobbs. We have a children’s book coming out. More about it later                  “All the poets of the world should have this day off. World Poetry day is our day…”

World Poetry Day  is my first day as  ambassador for Place2Be.Place2Be is a children’s mental health charity with over 25 years’ experience working with pupils, families and staff in UK schools.Place2Be provide mental health support in schools through one-to-one and group counselling using tried and tested methods backed by research. We also offer expert training and professional qualifications.

On a different matter altogether my friend Subrina Kidd has introduced me to the artist Delph. I love his work. The world is his gallery and it’s a better place for it. Follow him on twitter or insta.

Today is also a good day to announce project I would like you to be involved in. It is part of my artistic directorship of  Brighton Festival 2021 which was announced in The Stage (subscription)  today.  There are over seventy events taking place at  the Festival this year. For my project would you   “Tell Me Something About Family”?  Not right now. All will be  explained  in the Brighton Festival programme out on 30th March. .  The festival begins in May. 

Illustration by Greg Stobbs. More about our children’s book later in the post.

The poster below ( by artist  and designer Morag Myerscough) with one of my morning poems  is up for auction on March 25th.  The Museum of The Home  are  campaigning to change the lives of the many women and families facing homelessness today. They are raising money by holding an  auction  where you can bid  for beautiful items and exclusive experiences from leading UK designers and creatives. 

The words in the poster are…

Said the sun to the moon
Said the head to the heart
We have more in common
Than sets us apart



On March 28th on BBC Radio 4 I shall be speaking for Family For Every Child

On April 7th  Jeremy Mogford announces  the winner of The Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing. I am a judge with author Mick Herron.  The winner  will be awarded a cheque for £10,000 . It’s the largest  prize for ‘food and drink fiction’  in England.  I think. 

photo by Brooke Lark

 Throughout March  Hans Ulrich Obrist and I meet on zoom  each week. We are curating an exhibition for Manchester International Festival. We have invited artists from across the globe.  The festival begins in May.

Photo by Brigitte Lacombe (The Art Newspaper)

This month  I am ‘curating’  a series of talks for Hay Festival. Details  will be announced  in a few weeks.  The series is  called “One Year On: The George Floyd series” . The festival begins in May. 

News on the children’s book will be released  this week via the publisher.   Canongate acquires first children’s book from Lemn Sissay.   Publishing Director Francis Bickmore acquired world rights to  Don’t Ask the Dragon written by Lemn Sissay and illustrated by Greg Stobbs,  from Clare Conville at C&W and Arabella Stein at The Bright Agency. Canongate will publish the picture book in hardback in  March 2022.”

The illustration below is not from Don’t Ask The Dragon  but it’s another glimpse of Greg Stobb’s brilliant work.

And now for the £500. Can you squeeze the universe into 280 characters?  TWEET A POEM and you could win a prize of £500. Include the hashtag #micropem21.   Creative Manchester, in partnership with the Centre for New Writing at University of Manchester and the Geological Society, is running a Micropoetry competition with £500 to the winner. See rules in link. I am a judge.  Go for it. Go Go Go for it.  .

On March 10th  Olivier Award Winning actress  Sharon D Clarke MBE  read my poem as part of Words for the Wilderness.  The poem is called  Colour Blind.  It’s the best rendition of the poem and I hope you think so too.

And coincidentally today  UNRIC posted the same poem for World Poetry Day.

The Hackney  Christmas Dinner video was uploaded on 17th March.   There were nineteen Christmas Dinners for care leavers in 2020.  We beat the pandemic. This is the work we do.  

On Wednesday 24th March come to this free in conversation with a very good friend, the poet Henry Normal.   Did I say it’s free. It IS FREE. Get your FREE tickets here.


I am sorry that I haven’t been listing live readings but they will be  listed on my website soon. There’ve been many zoom events. Don’t let anyone tell you  Zoom is less real. I have been invited into the homes of each audience member and each audiecne member has been invited into mine.   It can’t be more real than that. 

One of the most powerful  projects this last year was  Hold Still.  Spearheaded by The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. Hold Still is an ambitious community project to create a unique collective portrait of the UK during lockdown. “We invited people of all ages to submit a photographic portrait, taken in a six-week period during May and June, Over 31,000 submissions were received from across the country, with entrants ranging from 4 to 75 years-old. From these, a panel of judges chaired by Kate Middleton selected 100 portraits, assessing the images on the emotions and experiences they conveyed.”   The exhibition is online.  There is a reason I am sharing this info with you now. 

A selection panel, including The Duchess of Cambridge, National Portrait Gallery Director Nicholas Cullinan, the author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, the Chief Nursing Officer for England Ruth May, and award-winning photographer Maryam Wahid, met via a video call in July 2020

I have heard a whisper that  there  “may” soon be a publication of Hold Still published by The National Portrait Gallery.  The photographs are beautiful. This one is by Sarah Lee.

“Joe and Duke Brooks, locked down, a few days before their 18th birthday” by Sarah Lee. – (from national Portrait Gallery Hold Still)

In present times it should be noted that in Hold Still  a member of the royal family  promotes the differences which make us who we are.  

Photo by Anastasia Orlando.  (from national Portrait Gallery Hold Still)

And celebrates them in all their beauty and strength.  

“Eid-Ul-Fitir” by Roshni Haque.  (from national Portrait Gallery Hold Still)

I write these posts as  a window on my world.  There’s no middle man.  This is me.  This past year has been difficult  but  spring springs me.  Speaking professionally the past two years have been the most successful of my life. But speaking personally I have at times felt  unmoored. Over this year we have  searched for safe ground and something to hold onto as  the earth beneath us shook like never before.  In shock we fell into the mirror of ourselves and looked out at the world from behind the glass   

“Glass Kisses” by Steph James.  (from national Portrait Gallery Hold Still)

 We have found ways to contact each other and ways to be in contact with ourselves. We have reached out and reached within. We have zoomed in and we have zoomed out.  

‘Bedtime Stories With Grandma’ by Laura Macey (from national Portrait Gallery Hold Still)

 A portrait remembers moments in light. Like in the portrait below. The photograph, the portrait,  venerates and celebrates the light landing  upon them, within them and  between them.  A portrait discovers people finding themselves….

“Daadi’s love” by Simran Janjua. (from national Portrait Gallery Hold Still)

The focus of Kate Middleton in Hold Still is on community in all it’s complexity and diversity.  I witnessed her dedication to representation.  I’ll  end this  post with another  photograph from Hold Still.   It  speaks to the times we have lived through.  It could be about the face mask,, about Black Lives matter, about gender equality, about freedom of speech,  about childhood memory,  about women, about silence,  about  witnessing,  about resilience?   It is about us.

‘I Can’t Breathe”   by Papajgun (Jamal Yusuf-Adelakun)  Edinburgh (from national Portrait Gallery Hold Still)


8 thoughts on “The distribution of light.

  1. awhhhh Lemn
    what an exquisite banquet of soul nourishment your Blog is
    deep gratitude for your creative flow and hearts sharing
    much love and big hugs
    Sue xxxx 🙂

  2. Hi Lemn, this blog post has moved me to tears today. Already a bit emotional as my son is 21 today ( 21 on 21st in 2021!) and lots of looking back and forward at the same time. You’re doing amazing things – thank you.

  3. Dear Lemn, happy World Poetry Day! I learn so much about you in these blogs and you do so much. Look forward to hearing your singing voice!

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