Archive for the ‘poems’ Category

All in my Thought

August 11, 2007 6 comments

Here is a poem, “All in My Thought”, composed by Giddi Abamegal, an Oromo refugee in Kenya and published in Tilting Cages:A Collection of Refugee Writings, edited by Noomi Flutter and Cari Solomon, reflecting the predicaments of exile. Read more…

Categories: poems

Reminiscences From A Pen

July 7, 2007 4 comments

Here is a poem from Abera Jembere’s book, Agony in the Grand Palace, published in 2003 by shama books where the author reminiscences the horror he’s seeen when the Derg took measure against Emperor Haile Selassie I and his 60 other officials in 1974.Ironically, the book was translated into English by Dr. Hailu Araya, who today in his turn  ‘languishing’ in Kaliti prison along with other CUD leaders.The message seems aptly relevant to today’s context. Read more…

Categories: poems

Kifle Gebre-Egziabher: A poet in the making

March 7, 2007 23 comments

By Kumlachew Fantahun

Kifle Gebre-Egzabher is a 65-year-old retired agriculturalist living in Bahar Dar town.Though his love for literature, mostly novel, dates back to his childhood days, it was only recently that he realized his talent for writing poetry in English.

In a country where writing in English is not a common practise, Kifle ventures to make his modest contribution to Ethiopian literature in English.His poems may not be flawless but for a man of his education and experience, one can say, he writes very good poems with bold originality and charm. Read more…

Categories: poems

La Connection française

December 29, 2006 7 comments

 Solomon Deressa, the highly gifted veteran Ethiopian poet who is now admittedly, ‘loitering in the sloughs of Western universities, more to survive than to be edified’ is perhaps the only Ethiopian poet who coined poetry in three languages, Amharic, English, and French.

And his mother tongue is Oromigna, in which he grew up hearing his grandfather reciting poetry.

Solomon was described in African Arts, a serious periodical where a collection of his French and English poetry appeared, as ‘the new group of truly international poets whose use of varied language serves to emphasize the persistent universal humanism of which his perceptive and intimate poetry speaks.’

The following post is an extract from an extensive interview he had given for the Amharic Reporter magazine some eight years ago while he was here to launch his second Amharic poetry collection, Zebet Ilfitu.

 I have selected the part in which he talked about his connection with French literature and his attachment to their City of Light and I’ve tried to translate it as literary as possible. Here it goes. Read more…

Categories: poems

Shifting Gears

December 23, 2006 8 comments

I consider Solomon Deressa to be one of the most excellent Ethiopian poets, along with Tsegaye GebreMedhin, Mengistu Lemma, Gebre Kristos Desta,and Debebe Seifu.

A one-time painter,an art critic and poet, Solomon has two collection of Amharic poems, Lijinet(1970) and Zebet Ilfitu(1999) which have been lyrical delight for lovers of modern and contemporary verse for the last three decades.

His excellent standards are maintained in both collections and manifested in his rich and intimate poems.

Admittedly not of the traditional school of poetry and a self-proclaimed rebel, Solomon spoke of drawing the feel of his Amharic poetry from the sound of the language itself, not the direct utterances, but the underlying rythms.

Though not widely known as his Amharic poems, he has also a collection of poems in French and English that appeared in various publications.Twelve of his English  poems written while attending the 1972-73 session of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa were published in Topics,the United States Information Service. Others are included in anthology, Silence is Not Golden, A Critical Anthology of Ethiopian Literature,(1995),along with his wonderful essay, ‘Poems and its Matrix’.There were also  French and English poems that were published in African Art, a quartelry devoted to the graphic, plastic, performing and literary arts of Africa in 1969 out of  which I am publishing one, Shifting Gears.Over to you now. Read more…

Categories: poems

Amharic Love Song

December 19, 2006 6 comments

I have found this translation of an old Amharic song in a journal, Black Orpheus that came out some fourty years ago.

No literary-historical background is given and no mention of the translator is made.It only says Love Song (from the amharic).

I think it will certainly be of great interest to anyone interested in Amharic folk poetry. Read more…

Categories: poems

Interview with poet Asafa Tefera Dibaba

November 12, 2006 55 comments

Decorous Decorum (My People) is new English poetry book by Asafa Tefera Dibaba, published last June 2006. The book contains around forty-five poems that the poet says are songs of hope and fear, love and hate, war and peace, of gods and goddesses. The author says the poems are written to deconstruct ‘Their mindless neocolonial discourse.’
‘Their’, apparently referring to the Amharic and Tigrinya speaking highlanders whom the author thinks have subjected the Oromo people to a mere “Subject”. In one of the poems, Assafa says
I have a House
I have no home
I have a Land
I have no country I have a People
I have no Nation
Nor Nationality Or Citizenship
I am subject
I am on Exile
On my Fatherland
I am distracted. Read more…

Categories: poems

Simple expression of love

October 27, 2006 1 comment

Here are  two selected Oromo love songs from Prof.Claude Sumner’s book,   ‘Proverbs, Songs, Folketales: An Anthology of Oromo Literature’.

Dr. Sumner had taught phiolosophy at the Addis Abeba University for many years , and he is known  for his book on Ethiopian philosophy  “Philosophy of Man

Intorducing the love poems, the author says that many Oromo love songs are simply varitations on the theme:the joy of love.The methaphors and compassion vary from song to song ,but the basic thoght is ever the same:the heart breaks, is enflamed , intoxicated, runs away;thoght of the girl makes the lover go away, takes away his own judgement.

       My hands are stronger than yours:

        They cut and cause the tree gadzdza to dry.

        My feet are stronger than yours;

         They cut and reach Roggie;

       My eyes follow the vulture in its flight.

         My heart isn’t strong as yours,

        My wicked heart which has wings,

        which breaks like a pumkin!

(The gadzdza is a big tree called in Amharic dana:din.Roggie is the capital of the Nonno roggie group that lives on the left bank of the Gibie, oppoite Limmu.)

Read more…

Categories: poems

Under The Clear Moon

October 4, 2006 6 comments

A literary giant, Mengistu Lemma was born in Harar, where his father was the aleqa in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.He studied religious music and classical poetry or qene.He completed his secondary education in Addis Ababa at Haile Selassie I Secondary School.He then went to London where he studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic, London School of Economics, and University of London.He participated in the Ethiopian Students Society and served as editor of its publication, The Lion Cub.   
After returning to Ethiopia, his first job was in the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Department.Mengistu moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, served in New Delhi, and returned to the Ministry as director general of the division of social and economic affairs in the United Nations Department.He then became secretary general of the Amharic Language Academy in the Ministry of Education.A good socialist, he stayed on there after the Derg seized power (1974) and later moved to the Ministry of Culture.   
Mengistu’s real love was literature, poetry, and play-writing.Always writing in Amharic, he is especially known for his plays Marriage by Abduction and The Marriage of Unequals.Although his early work tended to be comedies, after the 1974 revolution he published more serious plays and poems.He died in Addis Ababa on 27 July 1988. Here is one of his poems as translated by Michael Coke.

            Under the clear moon deep in the night,

            While like the star her eyes shone bright,

            ‘Kiss her!Kiss her!Embrace her!’ they said;

            His purpose was this, and the youth was compelled-

            Her waist and her neck in his arms he held,

            And his lips drew up to her mouth in dread.

            Although her pointed thorn-like breasts were firm,

            He felt her slap across his temples burn.

            As her whip-like hand began to fight-

             Under the clear moon, deep in the night:

             Woe to the beginner,and to the learner woe,

             Oh, to carry out orders, and advice to know! Read more…

Categories: poems

Of Memories and Dreams in Hama Tuma’s”Of Spade and Ethiopians ‘

September 20, 2006 15 comments

    By Kumlachew Fantahun        

                     ‘The struggle of the writer is the struggle of memory against forgetfulness.’ 

                                                                                                                       Milan Kundera

Many critics are of the opinion that Ethiopian literature in English is a closed book. Apart from a few novels, poems and plays, one can find scattered here and there; writing in English is not the norm in Ethiopia. 

Ethiopia boasts of an ancient writing tradition and unique alphabet in Africa and accordingly it has a rich Geez and Amharic writing heritage. But when it comes to English, it lags very far behind other African countries.For example, our neighbor, Kenya far surpasses Ethiopia in the amount of literary production in English. The reason of course, is not far to seek. Debebe Seifu in his master’s thesis ‘Ethiopian Literature in English’ has the following to say about the dearth of writing in English. Read more…

Categories: poems