The poet and playwright Lemn Sissay has won the PEN Pinter Prize, which was established in 2009 in memory of the Nobel Prize winning playwright Harold Pinter. It is awarded annually to British writers whose writing features courage and determination, while shining truth on our lives and societies.
As The Guardian reports, Sissay was an official poet of the London 2012 Olympic Games and his writings have explored the imprisonment, bullying, and physical abuse he suffered from staff while growing up in care. He also made an acclaimed documentary following his search for his real family.
One of the judges who awarded Sissay the prize, said: “In his every work, Lemn Sissay returns to the underworld he inhabited as an unclaimed child. From his sorrows, he forges beautiful words and a thousand reasons to live and love.”
Reacting to the award, Sissay said: “I met Harold Pinter when I was 36. We were on stage at the Royal Court. I was too intimidated or self-conscious to speak to him. And so I will now. ‘Thank you’.
“What I like about this award is that it is from a great writer and a great organisation. I accept it as a sign that I should continue.”
Sissay will receive the award at a ceremony at the British Library on October 10. Former winners of the award include Margaret Atwood, Sir Salman Rushdie, and Dame Carol Ann Duffy.