Award-winning poet and author Lemn Sissay has returned to Bendigo, this time to explore in conversation the experiences and issues that have shaped his new bestselling memoir.
In August Mr Sissay released My Name is Why, a memoir formed from the files that documented his childhood in the care system after he was stolen from his mother.
Having spent 30 years trying to get hold of the files, Mr Sissay then took legal action seeking redress from Wigan council, and won.
With that process over he decided to put his history on paper, telling the Bendigo Advertiser he thought that if his entire childhood had been on the public record, he could write a book to expose that public record.
It was only at the age of 17, having spent his life with a foster family and in care homes under the name Norman Greenwood, that Mr Sissay discovered his real name, he was British and Ethiopian, and his mother had always wanted him returned to her.
"I had to show what they did to me," he said.
While Mr Sissay is best known as a poet, he says writing long-form prose was "a joy".
Poetry is not completely absent from the book, however - each chapter opens with a short verse.
Mr Sissay said the government files gave him a solid structure for the book, walking him through parts of his life and prompting memories for him to build upon.
"The unique quality of the book is that it uses the actual files... to tell the story of the first 18 years of my life," he said.
Shortly after its release, My Name is Why became a Sunday Times bestseller.
"It felt so good... It's been a great ride, to the end of what was a difficult journey," Mr Sissay said.
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That is just one of Mr Sissay's achievements this year.
In June he received the PEN Pinter Prize, which is awarded to a writer of outstanding literary merit who "casts an 'unflinching, unswerving' gaze upon the world and shows a 'fierce intellectual determination ... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies'".
And on Thursday night, while on stage in Bendigo, he will find out whether his documentary Superkids: Breaking Away from Care will win a Grierson Award, a prestigious honour for documentary makers.
This is the second time Mr Sissay has visited Bendigo; he attended last year for the Bendigo Writer's Festival.
Thursday night's event is his only gig in Victoria, and one of just a few in Australia.
Mr Sissay will read from My Name is Why, before discussing it with Sarah Mayor Cox.
He said it was an honour to be invited back to the city, having had a wonderful time during his last visit.
My Name is Why: Lemn Sissay in Conversation will be held at the Capital Theatre on November 14 at 7pm.
Tickets can be purchased at the Capital's website.
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