Chris Beckett

Chris Beckett grew up in Ethiopia in the sixties before being packed off to school in Yorkshire and Surrey. He worked in a trucking company in Australia, then moved to Japan where he worked five years in shipping. Now he sits behind a desk in Victoria and trades sugar on the international markets, but still gets to travel.

His early poetry was heavily influenced by DH Lawrence and the fascination with the close but alien world of animals and fish has stayed with him. In rhythm and language, he is still enthralled by Lawrence and by African praise poetry, that contrast of simple everyday words and phrases with a courteous sometimes ecstatic formality.

 

The Dog Who Think He's a Fish (Smith/Doorstop, 2004) won the Poetry London Competition.

 

His second collection, Ethiopia Boy, based around a series of praise shouts and laments for his childhood friend Abebe, was published by Carcanet/Oxford Poets in February 2013. He also translates the work of Ethiopian poets including Bewketu Seyoum, and a bilingual pamphlet in Amharic and English, In Search of Fat, was published by Flipped Eye in June 2012 to coincide with the Poetry Parnassus Festival in London, where Bewketu represented his country.



Reviews

'These exuberant poems move from the commonplace to the revelatory by sleight of hand. There's a rightness of tone, a deftness and true authority. Reading The Dog Who Thinks He's A Fish is like learning to fly – it's as easy as laughing. Chris Beckett is a natural.' — Pascale Petit

'A rare delight' — Moniza Alvi

PRAISE POEM FOR ASFAW, THE BEST COOK IN AFRICA

His belly has the roundness of cooking pots.
His smile is always generous to boys.
His teeth are yellow like home-made beer.
His fingers are chunks of stew.
He lives in the steam from kettles.
His breath is a lemon tree.
His hair is a thorn-bush.
He can use it to scour the frying pans. 

 

— From The Dog Who Think He's a Fish

Titles by this author

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