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.
These are poems of lived experience, focusing on particularities – startling, moving, beautiful.
'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
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.