I'm glad too, Lemn
As a young poet my tastes in poetry
and the choice of anthologies that I read shifts and changes as easily as the
wind. Throughout my poetic career however, there has been one constant; the
works of Lemn Sissay whom I first discovered reading the poem ‘Going Places’ in
a collection of modern British poetry. That particular poem ends with a simple,
‘I think I'll paint roads on my front
room walls to convince myself that I'm going places.’
This simple combination of a surreal
idea with relatable imagery has defined my style as a writer and continues to
inspire my work.
Although "Going Places" is not within it, Tender Fingers in a Clenched Fist is one of my most prized possessions. It was the first collection
published by Lemn and was released as a small print run in 1988 while he was
just twenty-one years of age. The copy I have is a somewhat battered
first edition paperback, bought from a library in Bradford which was forced to
close due to lack of funding. But this somehow makes the book all the more
special, within the peeling, creased exterior of the book sits Lemn’s youthful, raw
emotion, a lone angry voice in the crowd telling anyone who cares to listen
that he is done with all of this bullshit. Though Tender Fingers is not as
formed or polished as Sissay’s later work, it is a priceless insight into the
mind of a young writer on the verge of becoming one of most important poetic
voices in modern day Britain.
One more thing makes my addition
special; I had the fortune of meeting Lemn at an event in Sheffield and told
him how much he has inspired me and now on the inside page, scribbled in black
sharpie above his signature, he has written ‘Dan, I am so glad that you found
this book’ I’m glad too Lemn.
"Dan, I am so glad that you found this book’ I’m glad too Lemn."
poetry is a reflection of the Yorkshire landscapes that raised him. The
coherent playfulness of his work allows the reader to easily become lost in the
unembellished but fantastic world that is conjured around them.
currently working on writing/editing a larger collection of poetry titled ‘Sea
Glass for Eyes’ which chronicles his personal experience of losing an older
brother at a young age. The poems use simple language and a deliberately small
vocabulary to frame, with often striking and uncomfortable imagery, the idea of
loss through the eyes of a child.
His pamphlet Know-it-all
is available from Half Moon Books.