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Lemn Sissay is a poet, performer, and chancellor at the University of Manchester. His work ranges from volumes of poetry and plays to documentaries, and an autobiography. He’s been awarded an MBE for services to literature by the Queen, and in 2019 won the PEN Pinter Prize, given to writers who take an “unflinching, unswerving” view of the world. 

Lemn told us about his childhood spent with a foster family who rejected him at the age of 12. He spoke about spending five years in four different children’s homes and realising at the age of 18 his entire life was a lie. He also spoke about transforming experience, however harrowing, into memory and meaning, and about the giant who gave him strength and inspiration throughout.

To find out more about Lemn go to lemnsissay.com

Transcript

Lemn Sissay:
So the point is, is that our experiences are a gift for us to learn from. They’re not a burden for us to carry for the rest of our lives. And there is no problem that can attack the mind that cannot be worked through, through some deep processes. Whether that’s therapy, whether it’s a religion, whether it’s whatever your thing is. As hard and unbending that the problem seems to be, it can actually be massaged into invisibility.

Lemn Sissay:
All family is, is a set of disputed memories between one group of people over a lifetime. And I’ve fought to find the giants whose shoulders I could stand on and tell them, “That one thing you did for me actually made a pivotal difference in my life. You saw me.” And there’s every reason why you should never know what effect you’ve had on me, because my life has been about, my childhood has been about the institution disassociating me from memory. Institutionally doing that.

Lemn Sissay:
A poem, a piece of art allows you to say no, this is my 3D postcard to my spirit. This happened. And then you walk on back into the storm to wherever you’re going. And then another one and another one. And before you know it, you can see how far you’ve traveled and how many flags are flying in the mountainside.

Aleks Krotoski:
Hello, you are listening to Standing On The Shoulders, a podcast in which inspiring people tell us about their giants. The people whose metaphorical shoulders they stand on. Across these episodes, you’ll be hearing the stories of a number of thinkers and innovators, visionaries who steer clear of well-trodden paths and build their own elaborate fantastical worlds instead. They will tell us about the key moments that shaped their professional journeys. And they’ll talk about the single most meaningful person to inspire them along the way. Hosted by me Aleks Krotoski, and supported by Pearson. And the usual small caveat here. We’re still on lockdown recording mode. So the audio quality isn’t as pristine as we might’ve liked. Our guest today is Lemn Sissay.

Lemn Sissay:
I am a British writer whose family are from East Africa, from Ethiopia. And yeah, I guess that’s the beginning of who I am.

Aleks Krotoski:
It is indeed the beginning.

Aleks Krotoski:
Lemn is a poet, performer, and chancellor at the University of Manchester. His work ranges from volumes of poetry and plays to documentaries and an autobiography. He’s been awarded an MBE for services to literature by the queen. Last year, he won the PEN Pinter Prize, given to writers who take an unflinching, unswerving view of the world.

Aleks Krotoski:
Lemn’s unflinching gaze has been trained on his own life. He was born to an unmarried Ethiopian mother and was taken away from her shortly afterwards. He grew up in foster homes and care homes, and only found out who his real family was when he turned 18. This painful origin story has shadowed and spurred on a great deal of his work. Including a memoir, a documentary, a radio drama, and a play. Lemn told us about his childhood marked by pain, abuse, and almost moments of pure creative [inaudible 00:04:09]. He spoke about discovering his family as an adult, about the mystic art of transforming experience however harrowing, into memory and meaning. Andy told us about the giant who gave him the strength and inspiration throughout his life. But first, we spoke about his complicated early life.

Lemn Sissay:
My mother came to England in the late ’60s to study just for a short period of time as part of the expansion of her own country. Just like an American may come to study in England and Australia, and may go to study in Ireland. To this day.

Lemn Sissay:
But she found herself pregnant. And the school that she was at sent her to a mother and baby home. They had these mother and baby homes all over England. Many Irish women came over from Ireland to have their children adopted through these mother and baby homes. My mother did not want me adopted and found herself in the dark north of England, pregnant, having to wash the floors, being looked after by the nuns who ran these mother and baby homes.

Lemn Sissay:
As a visitor, my mother was from a country which had never been colonized unlike England. And the social worker who worked with the nuns in the mother and baby home had me fostered. He wanted my mother to give me to him to have me adopted, but she said she would not do that. He gave me to foster parents. And he said to them, “Treat this as an adoption. This child is yours forever. We will get this woman to sign the adoption papers.”

Lemn Sissay:
My mother didn’t sign me at the adoption papers, and I never saw her again in my childhood. I was brought up by foster parents who said that they were my parents forever. They were white, white British from the North of England, from the villages. They were deeply religious. They were Baptists. And the story was that they’d saved this poor child from poor Africa. At 12 years of age, the foster parents and my brothers and sisters, but the foster parents put me into care into children’s homes and said they would never speak to me again, and never did while I was in care. I’d lost everybody. I lost my aunts, my uncles, my brothers, my sisters, my grandma, my granddad, my town, my village, my first girlfriend. And from that moment onwards, I was not allowed any relativity to any moment beyond 12 years.

Lemn Sissay:
For the next five years, I was held in four different children’s homes with children who left the home every year, staff who changed every four hours. So four different children’s homes over the next five years. When I left the care system at 17 and a half years of age, I knew that I didn’t know anybody who knew me for longer than a year. And I realized that that’s all family is. It’s a set of disputed memories between one group of people over a lifetime. And I had nobody at 17 and a half to dispute the memory of me.

Lemn Sissay:
When I left the children’s homes, I thought my name was Norman Mark Greenwood. The social worker at the end of my 18 years gave me my birth certificate, and my birth certificate had the name on it Lemn Sissay. The social worker who’d stolen me from my mother had given me his name and told my foster parents he must be called Norman. The foster parents wanted to call me Mark after mark in the Bible and their last name was Greenwood. And I have NG tattooed onto my hand because that’s what we did in the children’s homes. We tattooed ourselves. We maimed ourselves. And it’s not even my name.

Lemn Sissay:
So at 17 and a half, I was given my birth certificate and it said Lemn Sissay on it. That had always been my name. And the social worker was so angry with what had happened to me and the fact that I then had to leave the rest of my life with nobody.

Aleks Krotoski:
Lemn was angry too. As a child of the state, he ought to have had a good education, therapy, and care. What he got instead was in his words, 18 years of portrayal, secret, lies, beatings, and incarceration. In 2015, Lemn received an apology letter from Wigan Council. This he thought was to put it mildly, inadequate for the incalculable losses he had experienced. They told him he was entitled to make a claim, so he did. Finally receiving compensation three years ago.

Aleks Krotoski:
But the first step of Lemn’s quest to find out who he was began much earlier when he was 18, cut loose from the state’s care. It began after the realization that the name he was called all his life, Norman Mark Greenwood was a fiction made up by free white people who failed him.

Lemn Sissay:
In other words, at 17 and a half, I realized that everything had been a lie. So it’s only at 18 when everybody else is going out to study in colleges, they’re looking towards getting married. They’re looking towards running away from their parents, and becoming the adults, and blaming their parents from a childhood that they didn’t like. When everybody’s moving on, I realized that the most important thing for me to do was to move back because I had to find out what had happened to me.

Aleks Krotoski:
As a social psychologist, I have trained and believe that you are you as you. You the identity now are comprised of all of the experiences that you have had to that point. And I’m wondering, which do you feel are the most formative in the Lemn that exists today?

Lemn Sissay:
Well, are our formative experiences linked to memory? Because memory is primarily what was stolen from me as a child. However, I have since regained memory by fighting for it to find facts, to meet people who knew me, to make documentaries, etc. It’s a long way around basically saying to you that I was a very happy kid. I thought the world woke up when I woke up. I thought when the curtains were closed on my bedroom window with the foster parents, the world was like, “Okay, let’s just all go to sleep now because obviously he’s sleeping.”

Lemn Sissay:
No, but honestly. And the world was so excited when I woke up because it could wake up as well. So as I opened the curtains, color came into the world. Previous to that, it was really quite gray, you know?

Lemn Sissay:
So I genuinely felt a connection with nature, with people. And I did think that everybody smiled. That the nature of people was that they would smile. And I loved that. I mean, I loved the connection that could break open this humanity basically, which is what to connect is, to smile is.

Lemn Sissay:
And what I didn’t realize, and I didn’t realize this til way later on, till I was twenties. That what was happening is that people were smiling back at me smiling at them. Isn’t that incredible to realize oh, they were smiling at me because I was smiling at them. And that was such a profoundly, I want to say profoundly moving feeling for me of thinking that child is worth something, man. He has got something. Whatever that thing is. And by the way, it’s no better than any other child. It’s no richer. I feel lucky to be able to have seen what is important in life. What is that saying from Nat King Cole? The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and to be loved in return.

Aleks Krotoski:
Well, what is extraordinary is that after this period of smiling, perhaps that is the style that kept you from deterioration. Because given the experience that you subsequently had after leaving the foster home and jumping from care home, to care home, to care home, you needed something to help deal with frustration, to find yourself in that. Because you didn’t have constancy, the only constancy was yourself. And that is something that it takes people lifetimes to realize. And you had that, or you had to develop that proper quick in your life. Is that something that you find frustrating now, or is that something that you would celebrate now?

Lemn Sissay:
I mean I’ve been angry Aleks, but I’ve not held onto anger. And I do believe that anger is an expression in the search for love. And that if one holds on to anger. And it’s very seductive. I mean, being right is very seductive. There are whole families who’ve never spoken to each other that just because they all think that they’re right. In other words, I had wrong done to me by people, but they did not know that they were doing wrong. And they may not be in a position to be able to accept that they did wrong. Because to do that, they would have to break down their own familial structures, and their own anxieties, and their own messed up relationships with themselves, and their own families. I’m speaking of my foster family here.

Lemn Sissay:
So the point is, is that our experiences are a gift for us to learn from. They’re not a burden for us to carry for the rest of our lives. And there is no problem that can attack the mind that cannot be worked through, through some deep processes. Whether that’s therapy, whether it’s a religion, whether it’s whatever your thing is. As hard and unbending that the problem seems to be, it can actually be massaged into invisibility. And I don’t mean denial. I mean into invisibility in the present. All artists, all creatives try their best to create and to be in the present, which is to be closer to God. Whatever you want to call God. I mean, I don’t really have a religion. But I believe that this is why people sing in churches. This is why the muezzin is sung in the Qur’an. This is why people chant verses from the Psalms. It’s to be in the present, to be with a higher sense of self. And that’s right at the heart of what it is to be an artist and what it is to appreciate art as well.

Aleks Krotoski:
I mean, one of the things that I love about being able to have conversations with people who think about this stuff all the time is that I learn every time I speak with somebody. And from you, it’s a project of learning to let go of not holding on. What you just said there about your experiences are not a burden, but they should be celebrated, is something that so many people are unable to accept. And yet you have. Now whether that is through poetry and through writing, which you found as your muse, or whether that’s religion as you had it as a child, or other everything else, putting needle to your skin when you were in the home. Whether it was those things that gave you that voice, that allowed you that voice. It’s inspiring to hear that you see it as something to celebrate rather than something to carry as a burden.

Lemn Sissay:
Oh my gosh. Faith is not the monopoly of religions and creativity is not the monopoly of artists. One of the great things about the arts, and being a creative, and meeting incredible people is that you learn so much from them, Aleks. We are speakers. We are sort of stage crawlers. We’re voice technicians. But we listen as well. It’s equally important to listen as it is to speak. And in fact, possibly more important. One of the problems with becoming an artist who creates things that make a noise that get a reaction from the public is that you have less chance to listen because you’re so busy speaking. And getting that balance in life between the listener and the speaker is tricky and should always be addressed.

Aleks Krotoski:
Lemn found his voice pretty early. He self published his first book of poems when he was 21. It was called Tender Fingers in a Clenched Fist. And he sold it door to door, while also running a gutter cleaning business.

Aleks Krotoski:
Did you realize when you picked up your pen and began writing poetry, that you then sold door to door when you were on the dole, after you left the care home? Did you realize that you were trying to confront a broken system?

Lemn Sissay:
When you’re an artist, and a writer, and a creative, it doesn’t make you any better than anybody else. But if you see something, you can’t not see it. Okay? You can’t not write about it. So I just followed that truth, Aleks. Could I see into my own future? No. Could I see into the future of the systems? No. Could I see some of the change that I’ve been at the forefront of making? No. Oh God, that sounded so arrogant.

Lemn Sissay:
All I ever did was write a poem, Aleks. And I would often be quite shocked at how threatened people were by the writing of a poem. The people in the institutions, the social worker who stood up in front of me once and said, “You copy all your poems off Bob Marley records.” The fact that he should feel so threatened about this child writing a poem. All of that said to me that I was doing something right, that there was something about what I was doing that firstly gave me a sense of place, a familial sense that I got when I put the flag in the mountain side. I am feeling this here now in the middle of this storm. And I need to hold onto this, a poem, a piece of art allows you to say no, this is my 3D postcard to my spirit. This happened. And then you walk on, back into the storm to wherever you’re going. And then another one, and another one. And before you know it, you can see how far you’ve traveled and how many flags are flying in the mountainside.

Lemn Sissay:
And the beautiful thing is when other people see it. When other people say, “We can see how far you’ve come Lemn, we can see what you’ve been doing. And we can see the journey you’re taking. And we get it now.” And that’s basically my life.

Aleks Krotoski:
Lemn’s life has fed into lots of his work. His troubled early life shuttling between care homes was the subject of his first BBC documentary, Internal Flight. His search for his family when he became an adult became the one man drama, Something Dark. This became a BPC free radio drama, which won an award from the UK Commission for Racial Equality. In 2017, he performed a one off play entitled The Report at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh sat at a desk and read aloud the psychologist’s report detailing the abuse he suffered over 18 years as a child in the care system. While Lemn hearing it for the first time, sat at the side of the stage reacting and reflecting. The Guardian called it, “By turns theatre as shock treatment, theatre as therapy, theatre as protest and, perhaps ultimately, theatre as survival.” And in 2019, he published his autobiography My Name Is Why, because his name Lemn means why in Amharic.

Aleks Krotoski:
The experiences that you had as a psychologist, one would see red flags throughout the experience of trust issues, of identity formation issues, all of which you see tick, tick, tick. You’ve passed with flying colors. Those red flags are down. You are a fully functioning adult. But you would have had to have learned to trust. You would have had to have learned to deal with frustration in a way that was functional rather than dysfunctional. And I’m wondering how you learned to trust. Was there a specific person, a specific bit of guidance that gave you the faith in how the world works?

Lemn Sissay:
We all seem to have a different idea of trust. You may trust your father more than your mother. You may trust your mother and father less than you trust your sister. You may trust yourself less than you trust your partner. You may trust yourself more than you trust your partner. You may realize that trusting your partner is an important part of you trusting yourself.

Lemn Sissay:
Like all of these metrics are different with every single person in every single part of that equation of family. There will be breakages of trust. The reason I’m saying this to you is that it’s very difficult for me to be able to give you a trust meter and say, “Well, that’s where I am. And that’s where that is. And because of the intervention of this person, my trust has gone up two points, which makes me two points less than your trust,” which is a classical family … I can’t do that. I can tell you that Christmas day will happen, and I won’t ever receive one message from one member of any family. Nevermind the family that I’ve found, but the family that I’m from, etc., etc., it was ever thus. If any of us think that one person can change your entire trajectory, it is only partially true.

Lemn Sissay:
I have chosen the people that have had an effect on my life. I’ve chosen them. I’ve gone back. I found the English teacher who taught me for only three years. And I’ve said to him, “Do you remember me?” “Yes,” he says. And I get to say to him, “You were an important part of my growth.” I get to go back to the children’s homes and in documentaries, and find the cleaner who said, “You were always writing poetry.” And I get to record that for a radio documentary. All family is, is a set of disputed memories between one group of people over a lifetime. And I’ve fought to find the giants whose shoulders I could stand on and tell them that one thing you did for me actually made a pivotal difference in my life. You saw me. And there’s every reason why you should never know what effect you’ve had on me. Because my life has been about, my childhood has been about the institution disassociating me from memory. Institutionally doing that. So I should not be able to go back to you to say you had an effect on me, but I have. And you did.

Aleks Krotoski:
Lemn found his giant fairly early on when he was a lonely teenager who had spent his young life being driven from one stark children’s home to the next.

Lemn Sissay:
I had no parents. Nobody was calling me to see if I was okay. But the point is, is that honestly, the one person, the giant whose shoulders I stand upon, who was there when I was in the children’s homes thinking they’re taking my name. When I broke down into depression at 16 and I couldn’t get out of the apartment. When I noticed that everybody around me, there were so many people who were racist who were looking after me, who were beating me because of the color of my skin. Who were spitting at me from cars. Who were telling me, “No, we don’t see color. Color is not relevant. You’ve got a chip on your shoulder.” Who were telling me that everything that had happened to me had not happened. The one person who I could hold on to who seemed to in his lyrics speak to me, was Bob Marley. And he had songs like Survival, “We’re the survivors, yes the black survivors.” And songs like Could You Be Loved. Don’t let them fool you. He spoke to my heart as a poet and as a musician. As a man who was as political as he was spiritual. A man who came from the villages right out in the country in Jamaica.

Aleks Krotoski:
It wasn’t just Bob Marley’s music and his lyrics that moved Lemn. He represented a whole inspiring way of being. And when Lemn looked closely, he was struck by all of the correspondences between his hero’s journey and his own.

Lemn Sissay:
He wasn’t a city boy, but who then came to the city and owned it. Like I came from the villages of Lancashire to the city of Manchester, and owned it. But Molly was mixed race. His father was white English, and his mother was black Jamaican. And his father’s name was [Norvel 00:28:19]. Norvel, very much like Norman. And he was an outsider when he came to the city, when he came to Kingston, Jamaica. And I was an outsider when I came to Moss Side.

Lemn Sissay:
And one thing I’ve learned about a lot of my black heroes, they came from the outside. They needed to learn about who they were. They needed to find their people, find their tribe. Of course now I know, just as Marley knew, just as Malcolm X came to know, just as Martin Luther King came to know, that your tribe is not of a color. It’s of something much bigger, much more profound. It’s something which is of the heart and the spirit, and the politics. Your tribe is what we all spend our lives trying to find. And it was so different then, but now I know that my tribe is everybody. It’s everybody. It is the poor old racist in the North of England who can’t communicate. He’s my tribe. He deserves help. As much as it is the great Rastafarian here in Hackney near where I live.

Lemn Sissay:
Bob Marley died of cancer. And his manager, tour manager was a woman called [Suzanne Newman 00:29:48], who spends a lot of time in New York, but also lives in Notting Hill. Suzette is an incredibly close friend of mine now and managed me for a couple of years. Suzanne Newman, who is obviously very close to Chris Blackwell who ran Island Records, who is the man who actually was pivotal in taking Bob Marley and The Wailers into the world market that they now found themselves, that they now are. There is a West End musical that will be beginning next year on Bob Marley. And I’ve had the honor of reading the text of it. It’s going to be absolutely incredible.

Lemn Sissay:
Just one more thing. I spent my adult life searching for and finding my family, Aleks. And I found a picture of my father. My father was a pilot for Ethiopian Airlines. And he co piloted the Emperor Haile Selassie for which he was given a present from the emperor. My father died in a plane crash in 1974, and I found him, about him in 1995 when I made a documentary with the BBC in my search for him.

Lemn Sissay:
In the one picture that you’ll see of him, he’s wearing the exact same ring on his finger that Bob Marley was wearing on his finger. The ring on Bob Marley’s hand was given to him by Prince [inaudible 00:31:25], the son of the emperor. By the time I found my father in 1995, I’d already written two books of poetry. One of which quotes Bob Marley.

Lemn Sissay:
There are some incredible things that have happened in my life, but coming from the village in Lancashire from the life where I was not supposed to put two and two things together. Fighting for myself, listening to Bob Marley at times when I was at my most broken. To now being friends with his manager, to have made documentaries on the World Service and on Radio 4 about Marley and his effect on the world. That my father has that ring on his finger. You can see it online. In fact, if you go online, you will see my father with one of the emperor Haile Selassie’s lions at the top of the air stairs. Remember when I was a child, I didn’t even know I was Ethiopian.

Aleks Krotoski:
I feel as if I’m sort of ebbing and flowing with these extraordinary connections that you are making, that you have made in your life. It reminds me of those moments of inspiration. You said that family is about memory, about having memory moments. And for you, Bob Marley is, checking back in with Bob, right? This is where I’m at now Bob, right? We’re listening to this song. This is where I’m at. And the last time I listened to this song, I was listening to it in this situation. And the ability to find somebody living or dead, that has been a connection with all of your yous. All of the Lemns. The Norman at that time to the Lemn, that is the now, right? To have somebody there, he then becomes family. And then to find that connection between him and your father, I can see how important that needs to be for the sense of who you find yourself to be now.

Lemn Sissay:
Aleks, at 17 and a half, I was imprisoned by the government in what’s known as an assessment center. I have proved that this happened to me illegally, and I took the government to court and won. All my life has been about finding evidence for what wrongs were done to me. However, it was in that place that I listened to Bob Marley. And I listened to him speak of mental slavery. I read two books on his life story. In him, I saw somebody who was spiritual, political, confused, loving, and uncompromising. And I think that’s the one thing that I learned is that we in our lives are told to compromise often by people who are frightened. The institutions that are built to help us shine can quite often become buildings of compromise. And in fact, they no longer realize why the compromising. That becomes part of the language of the institution.

Lemn Sissay:
So who’s going to stand up and say, “No, no, no, no, something’s wrong here, folks. This system was built for children in care, but they’re not getting care”? And it is always been artists on afraid of the own challenged agenda of institutions, artists who would ask the question that would blow the whole thing apart.

Lemn Sissay:
And Marley did that. And Jude Kelly does that. And Maya Angelou did that. And James Baldwin did that. And these are all like viruses inside the machine, not accepting the digitalization almost, the binary. This is how change happens. And this is why Bob Marley, a dead Jamaican musician could speak to a living human being in his teenage years, imprisoned in the North of England as the only black boy in an institution filled with hatred. That’s how powerful art is.

Aleks Krotoski:
You’ve just given me goosebumps. You really have. How old were you when you discovered his music? Were you 17?

Lemn Sissay:
Yeah. The man who introduced me to Bob Marley was a hippie on the housing estate in Atherton, who also introduced me to other illicit substances.

Aleks Krotoski:
[inaudible 00:36:12] to be fair.

Lemn Sissay:
Yeah, they do. Yeah, unfortunately. But he died as an addict only a year ago. And I included him in a documentary that I made about Bob Marley is my muse. I think it was called my muse on Radio 4. So basically the man who introduced me to Bob Marley became an addict, then came to Manchester from the villages. But while I was withdrawing cash from a cash machine, he was begging. And I heard him say, “Lemn.” And I’m very sober Aleks, and I’m glad to be. I don’t drink. And I feel very lucky with my experience in life. I feel blessed to know what’s important. I don’t feel any better than anybody else. I’m not morally better, etc., etc. I’m not any better in any way than anybody else. But I feel lucky to have known what’s important. And I do my best to try to protect that. Yeah. Anyway. [Marshy’s 00:37:30] dead.

Aleks Krotoski:
I’m so sorry.

Lemn Sissay:
You know.

Aleks Krotoski:
I know, but still. It’s like you said, there are people that perhaps you don’t see, but who you have a bond with, who push you and say hey. And even to know somebody who’s touched you in the past, you formed a bond with that person.

Lemn Sissay:
That’s what inspiration is though. Inspiration is not just your iconic figures. It’s the homeless guy who helps you once with an idea. It’s the shopkeeper who just asked you, “Are you okay today?” It’s the little interventions into your daily life, rather than the big moments of yoga, or meditation, or internationally famous singers. Who are the conduits? They are as inspirational as the person that they’ve introduced you to. It’s funny that, isn’t it?

Aleks Krotoski:
I was obsessed with serendipity for awhile. And I went deeply into what it means and how it happens, because there was a proposal by a technology giant that you could manufacture it. And what you’re describing is serendipity. You’re describing the accident that inspires an outcome. And what I’ve found is that cannot be manufactured because sure, you could make the accident happen through randomness, right? You could have been connected with Marshy. But the bond, the meaning was because you had the sagacity. Because you had the insight and the recognition that there was something, perhaps not at that moment but later on, that made that significant. That is what that is. That bond perhaps for you and your life is a serendipitous encounter that then becomes meaningful later on because you’ve had the chance to reflect and ruminate on it.

Lemn Sissay:
And Aleks, don’t we come to what was at the beginning here in some way, in that I believed that the world was smiling and connecting to me without realizing that I was connecting to the world that was connecting back to me. And the idea of being open allows for serendipitous events to happen. And maybe they are always happening. It’s just that we are not always open. You know? So I think inspiration is just as much about being vulnerable to new ideas as it is to feeling that an idea has elevated you somehow.

Lemn Sissay:
God, that was good Aleks. That was bloody good. Oh my God.

Aleks Krotoski:
That was really good. That was damn good. Thank goodness we got it on radio because now you can use it again. No, that was lovely.

Aleks Krotoski:
For show notes and links to stories mentioned in this episode, including more about Lemn and his extraordinary work, go to standingontheshoulders.net. Standing On The Shoulders is a Storythings production. This episode was produced by Shruti Ravindran and edited by Ian Steadman. Our audio engineer and sound design was by Kenya Scarlett. Artwork by Darren Garrett, website by Eden Brackenbury, social by Kate Norton. Our executive producers are Hugh Garry and Caroline Leary. Supported by Pearson and hosted by me, Aleks Krotoski.

Aleks Krotoski:
It takes a lot of time and a big team of people to make this podcast, more than most people would imagine. So if you like the show, please go to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcast fix, and rate it. It really helps people discover us. On our next episode, we speak to Roman Mars.

Episode Credits

Standing on the Shoulders is a Storythings production.

Hosted by Aleks Krotoski
Written and produced by Shruti Ravindran
Audio engineer and sound design by Kenya Scarlett
Artwork by Darren Garrett
Website by Eden Brackenbury
Executive Producers are Caroline Leary and Hugh Garry
Supported by Pearson

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