Lemn Sissay’s poem ‘Rain’ is written on a wall of the Gemini Take Away on Oxford Road.
In Poems as Landmarks, Lemn Sissay writes:
“And then there is RAIN above Gemini Take Away [near] Contact Theatre where I was writer in residence for a year….I am proud of this homage to Manchester and the source – rain…. I like the way this piece asks the viewer to interact with the building and the poem. When I approached the owners of the wall who run the vegetarian cafe in the middle of the block of shops they kindly allowed it. It turns out that the husband of the block interviewed me fifteen years ago at Hamburg University in Germany. A few people complained about the satellite dish that was put up after the poem. But I love it. I think of the poem being broadcast through sky. The poem was an original commission by Manchester City Council for a book about Manchester.”
When the rain falls
They talk of Manchester
But when the triumphant rain falls
We think of rainbows
That’s the Mancunian Way
For more on Lemn Sissay, see the British Council, Literature Matters: “The affection his writing displays for the region is mutual, and his poems have even been reproduced throughout the city, inscribed onto its walls and pavements. Take, for example, his beautiful concrete poem, ‘Rain’, which takes up an entire wall of the Gemini Take Away, on Oxford Road…The words run vertically rather than horizontally, black slashes of rain against a white background… Manchester is more than a poetic subject for Sissay, the city is also where he started out as a community activist and literature development worker with Cultureword, the collective black publishing project. Sissay continues to discover, gather, and promote the work of black British poets, as his influential anthology of new wave poems, The Fire People (1998) suggests. Sissay’s poems move, often movingly, between the lyrical and political, the personal and the public, between tragedy and comedy.”
Lemn Sissay is a musician, a stand up comedian, radio and television producer, a playwright, and a poet. His poetry collections include: Tender Fingers in a Clenched Fist (1988); Rebel Without Applause (1992); Morning Breaks in the Elevator (1999):The Emperor’s Watchmaker (2000), and Listener (2008).