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Ethiopia Boy

Chris Beckett

Cover of Ethiopia Boy by Chris Beckett
RRP: GBP 9.95
Available
eBook (EPUB)
ISBN: 978 1 847777 57 7
Categories: 21st Century, First Collections
Imprint: OxfordPoets
Published: February 2013
64 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback, eBook (Kindle)
Digital access available through Exact Editions
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  • and if anybody talks to you of wonders
    if anyone says
    ‘there is nothing more beautiful in the world than the procession of the Ark at Axum!’

    if anyone boasts the knuckliest punch in the village  
    or a blinding skill with numbers
    you can answer
    ‘well, what about the scabs on Tamrat’s knee?’


                    from ‘What about the scabs on Tamrat’s knee?’
    Chris Beckett grew up in 1960s Ethiopia, a country he describes as a ‘barefoot empire, home of black-maned lions...old priests decked out like butterflies and blazing young singers of Ethio-jazz’. Ethiopia Boy plunges the reader into praise poems that sing and boast and glory in the colours and textures of this extraordinary country. Here is a world of feasting on spicy kikwot and of famine sucking the water from rivers, of lion buses and a prayer child, where Earth sings greetings to the feet that walk on her.

    Haunted by the memory of his friend Abebe, the cook’s son, Beckett celebrates and laments a lost boyhood in poems of vivid immediacy.

    COVER PAINTING Isao Miura, Crossing the Water (oil on canvas). Reproduced by kind permission of the artist
    Chris Beckett was born in London, but grew up in Ethiopia where his father worked in the British Embassy. He received a first class degree in modern languages from Oxford University. His poems have been widely published in magazines, and he won first prize in the Poetry London competition 2001. He ... read more
    '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.'
    Fred D'€™Aguiar
    '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.'
    Daljit Nagra
    '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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