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Poet in the making

Yonatan Telelew is only sixteen, yet he has published an Amharic poetry book. His poems deserve attention not because they were composed by a 16-year-old boy but because they have freshness and astonishing directness. They reflect an appreciation for the birds, trees, flowers and show concern for social issues.

 Yonatan likes to observe his surroundings and his attention is directed outward to what is going on around him. The detachment of a young boy adds objectivity to the perception of experience portrayed in his poems.

 Yonatan was born in Cherkos area, a rough neighborhood in the South of Addis Ababa. Little boys didn’t have much to do other than sitting and idling around in the corners.  But at early age, he decided that wasn’t for him and set his ambitions to establish himself as writer.

He developed a love for books and he was fastidious with those books as he was fortunate to own, handling them with clean hands, turning the pages with the tips of his long fingers.

At a library in his area, he roamed from section to section, shelf to shelf looking for books that appealed to him. He came across various books that helped him to understand English better and came to know some African-American poets. He also came across the works of Ethiopian poet, Tsegaye Gebre Medhin, who he has come to appreciate.

 A look at Yonatan’s poems shows that they are labors of love. They are filled with color, hope, pride, friendship and love. Some of them have themes like Yilugnata, (the habit of worrying about the opinions of others), solitude, writing, love and longings.

 He has titled his book “Bisrat” which means good news. The cover pictures are done by himself and adds charm to this thought-provoking collection of poetic musings. He dedicated the book to his sister, Elleni Telelew whose unselfish devotion and loving sacrifice made a difference in his life. 

   Here is a rough translation of one of his poems. 

 Hope makes me wonder

When I consider

It makes me happy

Despite all the problems


He has no words inside

His mouth keeps talking

Missing the meaning

But tries to describe himself, Man

He died earlier

His shell still standing

Joy a lights inside

Surrounded by darkness

 He has the key of life

But doesn’t know how to use,


Why doesn’t he follow

His inside fellow?

Yonatan can be reached at yonatantelelew@yahoo.com.

Categories: poems
  1. Silent Devotion
    November 24, 2007 at 5:52 am

    Lone Grey Squirrel wrote an engrossing place today on
    Here’s a hurried excerpt
    He unnameable the assemblage to his sister, Elleni Telelew whose unselfish worship and loving blackball prefabricated a difference in his life. Here is a creased shitting of member of his poems. Hope makes me wonderWhen I considerIt makes me …

    Read the rest of this enthusiastic place here


  2. nuredin shengo
    April 15, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Dear Yonatan,
    Hello,yoni how are u.I am glad abuot Ur work exept Ur poem.And i appriciat your hobbies.I wil write next time. Friendship mean
    “But what is the good of friendship if one cannot say exactly what one means? Anybody can say charming things and try to please and to flatter, but a true friend always says unpleasant things, and does not mind giving pain. Indeed, if he is a really true friend he prefers it, for he knows that then he is doing good.”

  3. rahel
    September 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Dear Yonthan
    I just wish many of ethiopian poetess have a big platform to showcase their talent at huge scale like it was in late 60s and literature being appreciated. Go for the gold my brother you are an inspirational for many of us who need direction and appreciation of what we have in our hands.
    God bless you!

  1. November 23, 2007 at 2:27 pm

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