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University Chancellor Lemn Sissay picks his Desert Island Discs

12 Oct 2015

Listen to our latest castaway on BBC iPlayer

Lemn Sissay

Our new University Chancellor Lemn Sissay was the latest castaway on Desert Island Discs this week.

The poet, writer and playwright discussed how much of his work tells the story of his search for his birth parents.

Born to a young Ethiopian woman who wanted him temporarily fostered while she completed her studies, he was with a family until he was 12. He would spend the next five years in a number of children's homes where he began to write. On leaving care at 17, he self-published his first book of poetry while on the dole.

Several poetry collections, plays and programmes for radio and TV followed and his work has taken him around the world. He was the first poet to be commissioned to write for the 2012 London Olympics and his success has also brought him two doctorates and an MBE for services to literature.

He also takes writers' workshops for care-leavers and set up Culture World, the first black writers' workshop.

Lemn follows our President and Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell, who was the show’s first castaway of 2015.

To hear Lemn, and the tracks and books he chose to take to his desert island, visit: