Presenting Lemn Sissay

We are beyond excited and delighted to announce at last the name of the judge for our forthcoming 2020 Charles Causley International Poetry Competition!

It’s …

Bafta-nominated, international prize-winning writer and broadcaster LEMN SISSAY.

To name but a few of his many accolades, Lemn was awarded an MBE for services to literature by Queen Elizabeth II, the Pen Pinter Prize, and a ‘Points of Light’ Award from the UK Prime Minister. In addition, he has Honorary Doctorates from the University of Huddersfield, the University of Manchester, the University of Kent and the University of Brunel, and he won a Bikila Award with the Ethiopian music legend Teddy Afro. Just as importantly, if not even moreso, he has become one of the best-known, best-respected and best-loved faces and voices in British literature and society.

Lemn Sissay is a poet, playwright, artist-performer and broadcaster. He has read on-air and on-stage throughout the world – in settings ranging from the Library of Congress in the United States to the University of Addis Ababa, from Singapore to Sri Lanka, Bangalore to Dubai, from Bali to Greenland and Wigan Library. And the dizzying heights of Launceston completes that long list. Not only was Lemn our headline name and event for the 7th Causley Festival in June 2016, but he now also joins a very distinguished list as the latest Charles Causley International Poetry Competition judge, this time around.

What strikes us about Lemn’s poetry are the similarities to Causley’s work. His poetry’s use of rhythm and rhyme, along with his descriptive, accessible language, are two main comparisons. All of that, as with our namesake, never dilutes the depth of emotion he conveys. In fact, that’s only enhanced by those techniques. Lemn’s writing and speaking is undoubtedly as warm, observant, insightful, moving and humane as Charles Causley’s.

Year on year, our International Poetry Competition has grown in the number of submissions and their quality, as well in as its public profile. If you join us on this journey, we’ll update you regularly through our Trust and Festival website, our e-mail newsletter and our dedicated social media channels.

So: don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to check back regularly on our website and/or to sign up to our free Newsletter, which will all help you keep up with the latest information. This will include the launch date and rules for Competition entries, its general progress, Lemn Sissay himself as our 2020 judge, and much more!


(Photography credited to Hamish Brown)

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