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09 July 2020

Lemn Sissay MBE awarded PEN Pinter Prize 2019

4 June 2019

Poet, performer playwright, artist and broadcaster Lemn Sissay has been awarded the PEN Pinter Prize 2019. He will receive the award at a public ceremony at the British Library on the evening of Thursday 10 October, where he will deliver an address.

Lemn Sissay is an award-winning poet, writer and popular broadcaster. He is the author of seven poetry collections including, most recently, Gold from the Stone, as well as a number of plays. He was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Huddersfield and the University of Manchester, and was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2010. He was the official poet for the London 2012 Olympics and his Landmark poems can be found in London, Manchester, Huddersfield and Addis Ababa. Sissay is patron of the Letterbox Club, supporting children in care and in 2018 his documentary Superkids was nominated for a BAFTA award. He is currently Chancellor of the University of Manchester. He is British and Ethiopian.

The PEN Pinter Prize was established in 2009 by the charity English PEN, which defends freedom of expression and celebrates literature, in memory of Nobel-Laureate playwright Harold Pinter. The prize is awarded annually to a writer of outstanding literary merit resident in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an 'unflinching, unswerving' gaze upon the world and shows a 'fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies'.

A limited edition booklet of Lemn Sissay's British Library address will be published by Faber & Faber and available to the audience at the event. Tickets will be on sale soon at the British Library website.

Jamie Byng of Canongate Books who have published Lemn's work for over two decades tweeted his congratulations saying that Lemn is one of his favourite people on the planet.  Lemn's memoir, My Name is Why will be published by Canongate Books on 29 August 2019.