Menderin Menderin (Book Review)

Menderin Menderin is an Amharic poetry book recently launched at the Walia Bookstore. Written by Migbar Siraj, the book comprises of 22 poems covering various issues and emotions mainly about love, break up, memory and poetry among other personal experiences. Migbar believes that poetry is more capable of paving a smooth path to convey emotions and other ideas than explaining itself.

He clearly articulated this thought in the preface of the book noting that poetry and life are perhaps similar to this end for being a device to speak out or describe other things than clarifying themselves. Actually, poetry defines itself through describing other things in an extraordinary and aesthetic way.

In his poem titled Yaltamemkut Moches Behon (What if I’m not sick because I’m no more), the poet laments on the downsides of life with regard to poverty that snatches many lives ultimately and inevitably.

The street life that exposed many children to addiction and stripped them of the chance to taste the bliss of life to the full is part of the issues the poet tries to reflect his sadness with. The addiction on the flip side,blindfold street children and make them vulnerable to heavy downpours during the rainy season.

They use drugs to be oblivious to their miserable life. Meanwhile, the society gives little or no attention to such destitute toddlers. Instead, everyone is busy in managing daily drudges, in business as usual way.

Inured to the tragic episode related to the street children, the community enjoys life at ease even in the area where the addicted children get swept away by flood. One of the stanzas in this poem reads, “In the same spot a street child was carried by flood, people gathered to form a makeshift market square where laughter of joy by marketers reverberated.

Then I become confused.”After he saw the plight of the street children sidelined from the boons of life, he also regretted his folly for begging God to give him a better or comfortable life. And this essence develops in the next poem.

Minalbatim keras stegure, kimal endifelefel sibal, keanuanuar tinsh beguadel, hiwot yabibal aydel, a stanza extracted from Tera Negigir Yimeslal Aydel (Doesn’t it look an ordinary utterance) poem carries a message of “For louses to spawn on a hair why not mishaps punctuate our existence allowing a room for the burgeoning of life.

At the same time, life can be restored once again if I lead it through self-denial.” The substance of this poem is about promoting self-awareness on the significance of managing less comfy life for easement or relief of the mind. In fact, every poem in this book is well articulated in an impressive diction and expressions. In this regard, Migbar can be described as a word smith.

Some of the expressions he selectively used in this book are kal endayfes kekenfere, bearmimo gitim azye, anchin yixe edme endata, bertib betir gime yezaku, fitna melk yelelat set, tirsen betirse anebabre hazen belahu, ashuk eyachemaleku betirse mehal, lebichegninete ajeb hogne komkugn, soste zoro yemikom elf amet azure andgizit yifetal saqua among others.

On the other hand, some of the verses also disturb the rhyme for being arranged in a statement form out of their meter. However, the poet is selective in these statements too.

This portion of the poems incorporated as footnotes [but not placed on the spot/footer] to refer certain moments and emotions. Some lyric poems in the book reveal the musical talent of the poet beyond their poetic rhyme.

The poems titled Gedeb Yelesh Genignunet and Eskahun Eskezih Tinant New Gena efficiently reflect this skill of articulating lyric poems. In these poems, the poet somehow narrated the story in a way Ethiopians entertain themselves or express their emotions by putting verses into the mouth of Mesenko players.

So,these poems reflect the attempts the poet has made to praise his beloved through providing lyrics to traditional instrumentalists.

In Gedeb Yelesh Genignunet, with word pictures he describes his darling creating analogy with a paradise where a hopeless can’t reach her, impregnable to aromatic scent, undistinguishable entirety, or eye-catching shelter. In another poem titled Seber Metahu Saladir (I made haste to come before daybreak), he portrayed her like her hair is thinner than a smoke, her love nearer than death.

And he can’t share this hardest feeling with other people as his word become mute and he merely utters whisper-like words. Then he whispers words alluding to Tilahun Gessesse’s Endemayselechat(She knows the patience of my eyes track to accentuate his feelings) Many of the poems in the book are tributes to women.

The poet describes them in various ways mainly as guardians,source of beauty, love and compassion.Poems like Yikrta, Seber Metahu Saladir, Eskahun Eskezih-Tinant New Gena among others entertain this essence.

The poem titled Eskahun Eskezih Tinant New Gena narrates about his mother and lover. In this verse, the character hints about the fears he harbor that he may lose his loved ones mainly his mother and his life partner. He mentions natural cause for his concern to lose both.

In several verses he also laments his experience with his beloved. Understanding the meditation of the poet in such intense mourning vibes in several poems, readers may draw a lesson about the solitude of the poet perhaps for the breaking up or losing of the beloved. For instance, the poem titled Akalsh kene birkm, Kelbe semsh aylekim, carries the meaning of your name will never be erased from my heart although physically you are distant. In another poem titled Anget Yelesh Yihon Zoresh Mitayibet (Don’t you have a neck to turn around and see), the poet elaborates the effort he made in vain to reach to his sweetheart. One of the stanzas in this poem reads, akahedsh zina, ametatish jebdu, kedmeshign bemehon,libe yagegnew dirsan, tiztash mengedu, which literary means she often takes the lead in their pursuit to find love and leave too.

Therefore, he remains left only with vestiages of her memories. In another verse titled Akalsh Kene Birkm Kelbe Simsh Aylekim, the poet states, And letsidk yeserahut, lefikrua gitim yetsafkut which means, the only way I reciprocated to her love is by penning down a tribute poem. He regrets for carelessly crossing a line of ants while waiting for his lover. And he cites this misdeed happed by way of avenging himself.

Finding a cause to separate with his beloved. Migbar also tried to address various issues in Menderin Menderin including social norms, maternity, poverty, nostalgia and so on. The book which entertains these and other issues in 117 leaves is on market at a cost of 120 ETB or 30 USD.


The Ethiopian   19 February  2022

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