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Cover for Songs We Learn from Trees

Songs We Learn from Trees

An Anthology of Ethiopian Amharic Poetry

Chris Beckett (Translated by), Alemu Tebeje (Translated by)


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This is the very first anthology of Ethiopian poetry in English, packed with all the energy, wit, and heartache of a beautiful country and language. From folk and religious poems, warrior boasts, praises of women and kings and modern plumbing; through a flowering of literary poets in the twentieth century; right up to thirty of the most exciting contemporary Amharic poets working both inside and outside the country. These poems ask what it means to be Ethiopian today, part of a young, fast-growing economy, heirs to the one African state which was never colonised, but beset by deep political, ethnic, and moral problems.

Carcanet Classics, 9781784109479, 304pp.

Publication Date: July 30, 2020

About the Author

Chris Beckett was born in London but grew up in Ethiopia. His second collection of poems, Ethiopia Boy, was published by Carcanet/Oxford Poets in 2013. Sketches from the Poem Road, a collaboration with Japanese artist Isao Miura, was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award 2015.  Alemu Tebeje is an Ethiopian journalist, poet, lyric writer, and human rights campaigner who left Ethiopia in the early 1990s and now lives next to Grenfell Tower in London. He runs the website and his poems have been published in Amharic, Chinese, and English.