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A Tenderfoot is a novice, someone unaccustomed to hardship. Here, he is a white boy growing up in 1960s Ethiopia, a place he loves even as he learns his own privilege and foreignness. Later he hears rumours of a famine in the mountains and imagines a boy his own age living through it, surviving on angry couplets. Years after, he sees this famine-boy grown up and questions him.
A sequel to Ethiopia Boy, Beckett's celebrated first Carcanet collection, Tenderfoot teems with 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'. 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.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'These poems are utterly distinctive, there is something at once proud and sad in them, as the reader senses that Tenderfoot loves but stands outside what he loves.' - Sasha Dugdale; 'Chris Beckett's poetry is highly original [...] The language is always fresh and surprising' - Daljit Nagra