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Walt Whitman in Awassa?

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Poet Gets Criticized for Unconventional Writing Style;

Says Critics are Jealous and Will Take Act on The Road


© Copyright Ethiopis.com and CHEWATA, January 2010

By WT, CHEWATA’s Reporter in Awassa


A 28 year old, self-proclaimed “Poet, a.k.a. Getim Getami”, in Awassa, Southern Ethiopia, is coming under fire from critics who say that his ‘so called poems are nothing but terrible abuse of the Ethiopian language’. Poet Tsega Melku is a street poet who stands in the streets of Awassa and reads his poems to interested strangers who encourage and give him money to keep his poetic work. Although most of the people CHEWATA interviewed in Awassa seem to admire his efforts, if not his talents, some critics are just beaming with outrage with his style of poems. Poet Tsega Melku’s poems seem to have styles of their own and in most cases, do not rhyme at all, as traditional Ethiopian poems do. Poet Tsega answered that particular criticism with an explanation: “My poems are unique and they don’t have to rhyme. People love it and I love it. I will be touring Europe and America soon and my jealous critics here in Awassa will soon realize that I am a great poet, ” he told CHEWATA’s reporter. As a sample of his many poems, Poet Tsega read to CHEWTA one of his very popular love poems and it went as follows:

Anchi Wodiya Mado, Ene Wodih Mado

Debdabe Tsafilegn BeEj Yemisetegn

Ene Ewodeshalehu, Anchin New Magebaw!”

“My own style of Getim is unique”.  -Poet Tsega

One of Poet Tsega’s harshest critics, Tsedey magazine’s columnist Tefera Alemu said, “This guy should be arrested immediately for raping and abusing our beautiful language. Look at his so called love poems. They don’t rhyme. They don’t flow. When he reads his so called poems, he sounds like a man who just left a Tej Bet!“. Ato Teferra showed a letter he received from Poet Tsega after one of his critical columns about the poet’s work. This letter was written in the form of a poem and it read as follows:

Menabak Honeh New Kenat Yakateleh

Getimoche Arif Nachew, Errir Debin Bel

Bekerbu America Heje Moja Sehon

Chama Elekalehugn, LeShefafa Egreh!

—-Yours Poet Tsega

“This is the kind of “poet” we are dealing with. Shenkora Meshet Embi silew new getim memoker yejemerew. Just like the Shenkora business, he will again be out of business in the Getim business too,” added Ato Tefera. Poet Tsega says that critics like Ato Tefera are overreacting and all he is trying to do is to be a habesha version of Walt Whitman, the famous American poet whose poems never rhymed nor made sense to anyone except literature weirdos. “While my critics are boiling in jealousy, I will be rich and famous like Walt Whitman, my hero. Just watch me,” he said smiling. CHEWATA talked to two people in Awassa who just bought a copy of the first published collection of poems by Poet Tsega, entitled, “Arif Gitmoch“, and both seemed to be amused and excited about their new book. “We like new ideas and this poet is trying to expand our literature by coming up with such messed up Getims and we love it,” said Amsarech Melaku with a smile. On page 45 of Poet Tsega’s book, there is a short poem which Asmarech said was her favorite. It read like this:

Woy DV alderesegn, Woy Kenya Algebahu

Anchima America Lela Bal Agebash

Enegenagn Bicha, Lela Menim Alel

Anchina Balishen Bedula Ketkeche

Gehanem Balekachehu, Tsega Set New Beyign“.

“I really like the way he stretches the verses and the unique ideas in them and the thoughts in them are really deep, ” added a very excited Amarech. “I think I am going to start a fan club for him here in Awassa”.

A famous Ethiopian poet who has published several Amharic books, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that all he has is “one word” to describe Poet Tsega’s work so far: “Arr!

“You know…KaKa”, he added.

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