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Ethiopia Boy

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.
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About the Author

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 has also translated Amharic poems by well-known contemporary Ethiopian poets such as Fekade Azeze and Bewketu Seyoum (Modern Poetry in Translation, 2008 and 2012; and a pamphlet, In Search of Fat (Flipped Eye, 2012). He is currently working on translations of later poems by Aime Cesaire, the great French Martinican author of Cahier d'un retour au pays natal.


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

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