Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Abeba, by Ribka Sibhatu

Our 29th Poem of the Week was suggested by III former Winta Bairu. It was written by the Eritrean poet Ribka Sibhatu, and is here translated into English from the original Tigrinya (it will also feature in our Voices of Poetry evening on Sunday).

'Abeba' starts :

Measured and subtle
As her make-up
And her finely drawn eyes,
She spoke like poetry

The food her family sent
To prison every day
Arrived as usual.
The day her grave was dug
I heard her cry.

(continued, with biographical details)

Winta writes :

Eritrean poetry has 4,000 years of tradition. These poems are mainly about love, war, family. The War of Independence (1961-1993) struck many hearts and also inspired many poets. The War of Independence was when Eritreans tried to break away from Ethiopia.

One young female poet is Saba Kidane. She is an activist who speaks of devastations, deprivations and hope. Reesom Haile is another popular poet. He wrote poetry on the resistance and the global dimension of the struggle of humanity. Another poet who lifts post-war voices is Ribka Sibhatu, who wrote the featured poem, 'Abeba'. It is a depressing yet beautiful poem set in the time of the War of Independence. This gorgeous poem was written in the perspective of a cell-mate speaking of his or her memory of Abeba. I find it a shame that stunning poems like this aren't regular poems that you come across, just because it is in another language.

Read here the poet's own words about this poem.

This is our 400th post.

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