Lemn Sissay - author and performer

Two outstanding FREE events jointly presented by the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre and the Hawke Research Institute

Lemn Sissay is an award winning British author, performer and broadcaster. He was awarded the MBE in the 2010 New Year Honours and is the first commissioned poet for the 2012 London Olympics.

He has appeared on The South Bank Show to the BBC's hit series Grumpy Old Men, where he remains the youngest contributor; is the presenter of 'One Love', the BBC World Service documentary on Bob Marley, and is an artist in residence at the Southbank Centre in London.

Lemn makes regular appearances on BBC Radio Four's Saturday Live in the UK which in 2008 was nominated for two Sony Awards; he is also appearing at the world's first Literature Festival of the Sea at Southend on Sea in the UK.

Lemn Sissay - InConversation with Michael Jacobs, journalist and writer

Thursday 18 August 2011
Bradley Forum, UniSA City West campus, Hawke Building level 5, 50-55 North Terrace, Adelaide

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Fusing the lyrical and the polemical, up-beat humour and deadly seriousness - Lemn Sissay's performances are notorious for their powerful energy and dynamism. 

Lemn has worked as a poet, writer, broadcaster, and performer since he published his first book of poetry at twenty one years old. His work fuses the personal and the political through both his own unique life experiences and his response to wider social issues.

As one of Southbank Centre's artists in residence, his work includes publications Tender Fingers in a Clenched Fist, Rebel Without Applause and Listener; published by Canongate. He has created several theatre projects; Chaos By Design, Storm, Something Dark and recently Why I Don't Hate White People. He also travels the world performing his poems.

He has created a range of major public art projects under the title Poems as Landmarks, many of them in his hometown of Manchester and more recently a commission for the City of London to celebrate the anniversary of the abolition of slavery, entitled The Gilt Of Cain.

He also works frequently on radio both as a writer and presenter, ranging from regular appearances on Radio 4 Saturday live responding to current news events, to a recent documentary style indepth interview with Gil Scott Heron, to adaptations of his theatre projects for radio drama.

Interlocutor: Michael Jacobs - journalist and writer
Michael Jacobs is an Adelaide journalist, writer and lawyer. He began working as a journalist in 1969, and has written about politics, public policy issues, and legal subjects since he first reported on Australian federal politics in 1971. He provided material for David Solomon's and Laurie Oakes's study of the 1972 election, The Making of an Australian Prime Minister. At various times he has written for The Canberra Times, Nation Review, The Advertiser, The Age, The Australian Financial Review and The Adelaide Review as well as doing news commentaries and talks for the ABC.

Michael has interviewed renowned ethicist Dr Margaret Somerville and controversial author Blanche D'Alpuget for past Hawke Centre conversation events.  He brings to the interlocutor's task a wealth of insights into literary and contemporary affairs. A recent visitor to arts festivals in Avignon and Aix-en-Provence, he also has a longstanding interest in the art of the stage and the challenges for the playwright.  He is currently writing for the local online InDaily where he offers considered perspectives on everything from public space savoir-faire, gleaned on assignment in Europe, to local reflections on Adelaide's cultural and political life.

Lemn Sissay performing Something Dark

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Shot through with lyrical beauty and sharp humour, Something Dark is a blast of light. Lots of laughs. Lots of tears. The drama follows an incredible journey of one man through the trials and tribulations of a dark past.

Lemn Sissay was a child of the state. The government was his parent. And after years of institutions he found himself at 18, alone. Something Dark is a triumph of spirit over adversity and a lesson to us all about the nature of society, of family and of love.

The play stretches over thirty two years and three continents from the moment his pregnant mother steps on British soil in 1968 to 1990. It is a quest for his family his past and his home.

The twists and turns in Something Dark leave audiences breathless, crying with both laughter and pain but Lemn delviers the audience effortlessly from the first word to the last.

Something Dark is a solo performance of searing honesty, laced with secrets, lies and truths too terrible to mention and artistically influenced by Lemn's background in poetry. Originally produced by Apples & Snakes.

Written and performed by Lemn Sissay. Directed by John E McGrath.

Nov 5 2010: Very occasionally a piece of art exists which is so powerful that if allowed to come into your life, it will turn your perspectives inside out. Lemn Sissay's something Dark with its candid and shattering truths is precisely this.
South African Jewish Report - Robyn Sassen

Something Dark is a triumph.
The Scotsman

Hugely enjoyable, inventive, funny and touching.
The Guardian

The Hawke Centre and Hawke Research Institute are pleased to present a series of Conversations with visiting scholars and experts.  This series commenced in 2009 and enables us to extend our thinking about topics that emanate from a more globalised world view. Among the topics in the spotlight are: Race, Diaspora and Postcolonial Studies; the Arts; New Media and Technologies; and, Globalization Studies and Education.  

If you are interested in attending, prepare to be involved in an in-depth session lasting approximately one hour.


While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy - valuing our diversity - and building our future.

The copying and reproduction of any transcripts within the Hawke Centre public program is strictly forbidden without prior arrangements.

While the views presented by speakers within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia, or The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: Strengthening our Democracy - Valuing our Diversity - Building our Future. The Hawke Centre reserves the right to change their program at any time without notice.