5 Big Questions: LEMN SISSAY OBE


How do you let others have the good ideas?

Should you give up smoking if you’re going to read to children?

Are you bad busy or good busy?


In this week’s 5 Big Questions interview we talk to poet, playwright, broadcaster and campaigner LEMN SISSAY OBE



  • Twitter: @lemnsissay

Known for:

  • Chancellor – University of Manchester (UK)
  • Trustee – Foundling Museum
  • Official Poet – London 2012 Olympic Games
  • Winner – PEN Pinter Prize (2019)
  • Guest Artistic Director – Brighton Festival 2020 & 2021
  • Author – My Name Is Why
  • Author – The Emperor’s Watchmaker
  • Playwright – Why I Don’t Hate White People
  • Playwright – Refugee Boy

The 5 Big Questions:

    1. How do you measure the impact of what you do?
    2. How should people/businesses be preparing for the future?
    3. How do we build the workforce we need for that future?
    4. How do you use creativity to solve problems?
    5. How do you collaborate?

Key quotes:

“I tried to take the word ‘busy’ out of my dictionary some years ago, because I’m doing what I love.”

“Art refuses to disappear because human beings refuse to disappear.”

“I’ve come to realise later in life that you’ve got to give it away to keep it. It’s the strangest thing but if you need help, try helping someone else.”

“I went from smoking thirty a day to none, on the tenth January. I’d been stinky most of my adult life.”

“I am proud to be a creative and artist and writer and I think that creativity is not only the monopoly of artists.”

“I’m learning to be quiet and to listen — and to listen beyond just the first idea. It’s a much more fulfilling way to work, with a group who are looking how to make an idea happen.”

“Teamwork isn’t just people that I choose.”

“Journalism has survived every despot that’s ever existed.”

This episode was recorded in April 2022

Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible

Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts


Never miss another Possibility Club podcast

Access 150+ podcasts featuring a diverse range of innovators, change-makers, leaders and disruptors from across the worlds of business, culture, politics, science and education.

Norman Cook | Andy Burnham | Lemn Sissay | Charlotte Church | Michael Rosen | Jimi Famurewa | Matthew Taylor | Stella Creasy | Tim Harford