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an admirable concern to keep lines open to writing in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and America.
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Categories: 21st Century, African, British
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (104 pages)
(Pub. Jul 2020)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Jul 2020)
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A Tenderfoot is a novice, someone unaccustomed to hardship. Here, he is a white boy growing up in 1960s Ethiopia, a place he loves even as he learns his own privilege and foreignness. Later he hears rumours of a famine in the mountains and imagines a boy his own age living through it, surviving on angry couplets. Years after, he sees this famine-boy grown up and questions him.
A sequel to Ethiopia Boy, Beckett's celebrated first Carcanet collection, Tenderfoot teems with praise-shouts for Asfaw the cook, for the boys living as minibus conductors or chewing-gum sellers, even for Tenderfoot's own stomach that hangs 'like a leopard in a thorn acacia tree'. Featuring storms and droughts, hunger and desire, donkeys who quote Samuel Johnson and a red bicycle that invites you on a poem tour of Addis Ababa, Tenderfoot takes in what is happening around but also inside the boy's mind and body - a human transformation.
Awards won by Chris Beckett Short-listed, 2021 The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry
(Songs We Learn from Trees)
'These poems are utterly distinctive, there is something at once proud and sad in them, as the reader senses that Tenderfoot loves but stands outside what he loves.'
Sasha Dugdale Praise for Chris Beckett 'This wide-ranging anthology is a pleasure to read. It opens a long overdue window into the way Ethiopians approach the craft of poetry.'
Malika Booker 'There is a drive to these poems, a quality of song, a fresh simplicity that neatly sidesteps sentimentality though replete with longing, a feel for the past.'
'Chris Beckett's poetry is highly original in the way it works with two sharply distinctive traditions in a uniquely engaging style. The language is always fresh and surprising and the sentiments are always heartfelt but in a subtly complex way that raises serious political questions.'
'Beckett's poems [...] are full of nostalgia, direct and honest without being overly sentimental. [...] Anyone who reads these poems and is not very aware of Ethiopia and its realities can still enjoy them, since they transcend boundaries and also call for more than one reading to get the wax, the real message.
Langston Hughes lamented in his Afro-American Fragment: "So long, so far away, is Africa". For Beckett, Ethiopia is here and now, in his memory, alive in his versatile poems, not far away and distant but near and vibrant.'
Hama Tuma, Anglo-Ethiopian Society
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