Carcanet book launch online: Tenderfoot by Chris Beckett

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
poet Chris Beckett
Poet Chris Beckett.

29 July 2020 Tickets from £2 — Book now

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.

Tenderfoot by Chris Beckett
Tenderfoot by Chris Beckett

29 July 2020 Tickets from £2 Book now

Where to go near Carcanet book launch online: Tenderfoot by Chris Beckett

Waterstones Leeds

Standing proudly on the busy shopping hub of Albion Street, Waterstones Leeds is a bookshop that also hosts a variety of events

Manchester Factory international Festival - People enjoying Festival Square in the city centre
Café or Coffee Shop
Factory Square

Factory Square is a huge beer garden, on the banks of the River Irwell, with top-quality drinks and street food selections.


Modern Greek Mediterranean cuisine from the team behind Tattu.

Flat Iron Leeds
Flat Iron Leeds

Relaxed restaurant in Leeds serving impressively high-quality steaks at an affordable price point.


Odioba is a new audiophile bar in Stockport, from the team behind the much-missed NAM. Coffee shop by day, bar by night.

What's on: Literature

Yellow poster with Weird as Folk written on it
Weird As Folk exhibition at The Portico

The Portico Library’s latest exhibition, Weird As Folk, runs through to November and invites you to explore and reimagine folklore via texts selected from the collection, which includes 100 books of English folklore.

free entry
AJ West
AJ West at Truman Books

Bestselling author AJ West’s latest historical thriller The Betrayal of Thomas True has been described by Stephen Fry as “really very good” and Farsley independent Truman Books is giving you the chance to hear more.

from £8.00
Rebecca Watson author photo
Rebecca Watson at Blackwells

Acclaimed author and one of the ten best debut novelists on The Observer’s prestigious list in 2021, Rebecca Watson will be chatting about her latest book with culture writer Jess White at Blackwells bookshop in Manchester.

from £4.00

Culture Guides

Rebecca Watson author photo
Literature Events in Manchester and the North

In between working out, then working through, your holiday reading pile this summer, find inspiration for your next bookish acquisitions from our selection of live events and exhibitions.