Manchester-based poetry press Carcanet’s latest lockdown launch sees poet, translator and editor Chris Beckett go online to read from his new collection Tenderfoot. Extracts will be displayed so that you can follow the text – offering an unusual combination of performance and on-the-page poetry, and a successful asset to have come out of online readings. Joining Chris to discuss the new work will be poet and broadcaster, Daljit Nagra, the inaugural poet-in-residence for BBC Radio 4, who will also field questions from audience members, so do enter the Zoom room prepared.
A “tenderfoot”, we’re told, is a novice, someone unaccustomed to hardship – in this case a white boy growing up in 1960s Ethiopia, much like the poet himself, who was born in London but grew up mostly in Addis Ababa, where his father worked at the British Embassy. The tenderfoot of the title hears rumours of a famine in the mountains and imagines a boy his own age living through it, returning years later to find out more, the resulting answers becoming: “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’.
Extracts will be displayed so that you can follow the text – offering an unusual combination of performance and on-the-page poetry, and a successful asset to have come out of online readings
“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.”
Tenderfoot offers a sequel to Ethiopia Boy, Beckett’s celebrated first Carcanet collection of 2013, and follows hot on the heels of Songs We Learn From Trees, also out with Carcanet, and the first-ever anthology of Ethiopian Amharic poetry in Englishedited and translated by Chris Beckett and his long-time collaborator Alemu Tebeje, and just published in May.
Advance registration is required for this online event, so – top tip! – don’t leave it till the last minute. The “entry fee” is £2, redeemable against the cost of the book, available direct from Carcanet at a special price – attendees will receive a discount code and details of how to buy during and after the event.