Bewketu Seyoum with Translator, Cheryl Moskowitz

Bewketu Seyoum with Translator, Cheryl Moskowitz

Bewketu Seyoum is an Ethiopian poet, novelist, and essayist who is Brown University’s International Writers Project Fellow for the 2015-16 academic year.  Born in Mankusa, Ethiopia, and most recently a resident of Addis Ababa, he is the author of four volumes of poetry, two novels, two collections of short fiction, and numerous essays written in his native language, Amharic.  Honored as Ethiopian Best Novelist of the Year in 2008 and Best Young Author in 2009, he frequently uses humor in his work to broach politically and socially taboo subjects rarely aired in the Ethiopian public sphere.  Bewketu faced increasing harassment in Ethiopia because of his work for several now-banned news organizations.  In 2012, he was attacked and severely beaten by a posse of religious fanatics because of an essay he wrote about the Ethiopian saint Abune Takla Haymanot.  Translations of Bewketu’s writing available in English include a volume of poetry, In Search of Fat, and selections in Modern Poetry in Translation – The Big Green Issue.  His work has also appeared in English in the literary magazines Prairie SchoonerCallaloo, and World Literature. 

Cheryl Moskowitz was born in Chicago and moved to the UK in 1970. She studied Developmental Psychology and trained in Dramatherapy and Psychodynamic Counseling. She has worked variously as an actor, poet, therapist, novelist and translator and runs writing programs in schools, health and social care settings, and with second language communities. In 1996 she co-founded LAPIDUS, the Writing for Wellbeing organization. From 1996-2010 she taught Creative Writing and Personal Development at Sussex University. Poetry prizes include the International Bridport Prize (2010) and Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine (2011 & 2014). Publications include novel Wyoming Trail (Granta 1998) and poetry collection The Girl is Smiling (Circle Time Press 2012). In 2007 Cheryl spent time in Addis Ababa where she first encountered the work of Bewketu Seyoum. Her translations of Bewketu’s work have appeared in the US literary magazines, Prairie Schooner and World Literature Today, and were performed at Poetry Parnassus, the largest poetry festival ever staged in the UK.