The author of curious case of Benjamin Button‟ F. Scott Fitzgerald once said “The beauty of all literature is you discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You Belong”. That is exactly the case every first Saturday of the month at Fendika cultural center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The place is filled with passionate writers, read- ers, presenters, artists and big personalities attending this one of the kind literature event called Poetic Saturdays. The cozy atmosphere attracts a huge amount of local and foreigner writers. Anyone can say their piece of mind with support from the crowd and the organizers. If you want to sing, you sing. Fancy a dance, then dance. You wrote something earlier, the stage is yours. Just remember to write your name on the presenters list and you‟re good to go.
“Poetic Saturdays is a platform where amateur and aspiring artists perform or present their works and to support local artists Without any language, age, type of work and content limitations.” said Biniam Getaneh, one of the organizers of the event when talking with EthioCreatives. “Poetic Saturdays is up and running since April 2016 and expanded to another city, Hawassa outside of the capital, being the first platform to branch out of the capital in a regular basis.” continued Biniam “Making Fendika Cultural Center, the only cultural center to be owned and run by a local, it‟s central home, Poetic Saturdays holds its event on the first Saturday of every month from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm. Currently we have a lineup of 20 different kinds of artists performing and presenting upon a registration on the day at the door.“ concluded Biniam.
The vibe at Fendika for poetic Saturdays is something special. Whether its your first time being there or you have been away for sometime, it always feel like you Belong there. Performers take the stage one by one and the diverse topics raised by all of them makes it not just a reading session. Everyone got a voice here and boy, do they use it well. There is no shame on raising a controversial topic. You just present your take and the audience will discuss it for a brief moment with one liners or they will talk about it with you after the session. You can tell the writers feel at home when they are at that shining spot to present their work. Young, old, experienced, amateur, local, foreigner, it is just the right amount of everything. Punch lines from the audience when authors perform can show you the closeness of the Poetic Saturdays family.
The topic depth raised by the authors makes you think twice. You laugh, you feel the pain, it feels like you are experiencing everything for the first time even though you‟ve been there before. Here is one poem that was presented by Seife Temam on the last Poetic Saturdays.
ከተቆላው ቡና አሁን ከጠጣነው የትኛው ፍሬ ይሆን እንደዚህ ያጣመው? የትኛው ልቃሚ ወደአፈር ተጣሇ
የቱ ጋር በስብሶስ በፍግነት ዋሇ?
የቱ ምን ሇየቱ ምን ምኑ ጋር ዘመደ
የቱ ዛፍ ተቆርጦ የቱ ከሰል ነዶ ጀበናው ተጣደ? ከየትኛው አፈር ጀበናው ተበጀ የትኛው ሰው ሞቶ አፈሩ ደረጀ? የትኛውን ሰው ነው
ጀበና ነው ብሎን ከእሳቱ የጣድነው ጥኡም ቡና ብሎን አሁን የጠጣነው? ... ግን...
የቱ ምን ሇየቱ ምን ምኑ ተቆራኘ የትኛው ቅንጣት ነው ይህንን የቃኘ ወዘተ ተብሎ የቱ የት ተገኘ
የቡናስ ገሇባ እንዴት ተሰናኘ?
የሰው መሆን አጽናፍ የጭንቅላት ዳሩ የንዝረት ስብጥር የብርሃን በሩ
የጨረር ጥርቅም በራሳቸው 'ሚያዩ እነዚህ አይኖች መሀል ሰውነት ተተክሎ አንዱ ኳስ የሚሇው ሇሌላው አሎሎ አንዱ የሇቀመውን ሌላው ቡና ብሎ ተሰጠን ፀጋ ግን እንካችሁ ተብሎ
የመንጻት ምድጃ የስልጣን ረከቦት
የኃይል መቁያ ምጣዱ የበረከት
በጥበብ ተሇቅሞ እኩል ከተቆላ የዶሮአይን ብሇው ይጠጡታል ኋላ
የሰው ዓይንማ ፊትሇፊቱን እንጂ ውስጡን እረስቷላ የሰው መሆን አጽናፍ የጭንቅላት ዳሩ
የንዝረት ስብጥር የብርሃን በሩ የጨረር ፍላጾች በውስጡ እንዳሇ አያይማ
የቡናው ፍሬዎች መሇከት ሲነፉ
ስስ ገሇባዎችም ባየር ሲንሳፈፉ አይሰማማ
በዓይኑ ማየት ትቶ ልቡን ካልቀኘ
ሁሇን ፍሬ አክብሮ ካላቆረኘ አይጸድቅማ
ቡና እንኳን ጥሎበት ጥላ ይወዳል አሇ ምነው ድርሻ አጣን ማኖሪያ ላምሳለ ምነው ልብ ያላልነው ፍሬዎች ሲጣለ ምነው እሳ ምነው ምነው የማትለ? ከተቆላው ቡና አሁን ከጠጣነው የትኛው ፍሬ ይሆን እንደዚህ ያጣመው? የትኛው ልቃሚ ወደአፈር ተጣሇ
የቱ ጋር በስብሶስ በፍግነት ዋሇ
የቱ ምን ሇየቱ ምን ምኑ ጋር ዘመደ
የቱ ዛፍ ተቆርጦ የቱ ከሰል ነዶ ጀበናው ተጣደ
EthioCreatives talked a couple of first timers for Poetic Saturdays, Ehitenat and Abduljemi. It was their first Poetic Saturdays experience and they both said it was more than what they expected. You can see the excitement on their faces at the break. “I love literature and I love everything about this event. There is no language barrier whatsoever. I felt like I understood French poetry earlier even though I can’t speak French and it is an amazing experience to be honest. I will be here every month from now on. It’s a must.” she concluded.
Abduljemi appreciated the poets that showcased their works and said “ I was bored when I came here and my mood changed instantly. I love the way they perform, the issues they raised is spec- tacular. I was told about the event and I wanted to see what the fuss was all about and it honestly caught me off guard. Everything seems interesting and the people here are positive and it seems like they know each other for a long time. It’s a good environment to be at and I can not wait for next month.” EthioCreatives talked a couple of first timers for Poetic Saturdays named Ehitenat and Abduljemi. It was their first Poetic Saturdays experience and they both said it was more than what they expected. You can see the excitement on their faces at the break. “I love literature and I love everything about this event. There is no language barrier whatsoever. I felt like I understood French poetry earlier even though I can’t speak French and it is an amazing experience to be honest. I will be here every month from now on. It’s a must.” she concluded.
Abduljemi appreciated the poets that showcased their works and said “ I was bored when I came here and my mood changed instantly. I love the way they perform, the issues they raised is spec- tacular. I was told about the event and I wanted to see what the fuss was all about and it honestly caught me off guard. Everything seems interesting and the people here are positive and it seems like they know each other for a long time. It’s a good environment to be at and I can not wait for next month.”
We also talked with one of the veterans, Edom Bahiru. She is a well recognized face at Poetic Saturdays and in many events as she is a very talented writer and MC. She said the following to Ethio- Creatives.
“The first Poetic Saturday was held at Eshi Bar and Restaurant. It was Christine Yohannes that organized it and she invited me. I knew Christine when we used to perform at Jams Addis open mic night. We were all disappointed that Jams had to close so I was really excited that she decided to start this.” Edom continued.
I was working on radio back then so I was late when I got to the event. I had no new pieces to perform so I was going there to just watch. In the car I wrote a poem that I could read in case I felt like performing (I always do this. But they are never good so I have to spend time to make them better). So I walk into the compound and Christine RUNS OUT from the Bar and she takes my hand and running in she shouts to the crowd and she had already pushed me on stage and I was facing the crowd. Small crowd yet Intimate.” Edom reminisced with a smile.
“But I had nothing for them. So I laughed, uncontrollably. And I told the crowd not to expect ANYTHING good. They laughed. And I read the piece I wrote in the car. No editions, No sugar. They were really supportive and interactive. They understood enough to take it lightly. And enough to take my next piece seriously. After my third piece (yes I recycled old ones, what choice did I have) we all stayed a while and mingled. I was introduced to some of the most amazing poets and artists. I found myself in a group that got what it meant to be an artist. I was hooked. But then you don't get to do what you want all the time. Next month, I couldn't make it. One after that I had school, next I had something. 7 or 8 months, I was missing from Poetic Saturdays. When finally I got to go, they had changed venues and it was now at Fendika. It was being held in the gallery space in the back and there were many additions and a much bigger crowd. The room was so full people were standing at the door trying to listen to what the poets had to say. I think it's the genuine listening ears that motivate the poets. The sheer interest of the audience in what you have to say. Not only to be entertained, but to learn, to share, to reflect. It was a truly artistic crowd. And everyone was there out of love, by choice on a Saturday afternoon. Christine had created something so big that she didn't even see coming. The events were so good that even after she left, her friends and family by choice had her back. Hanna, Bini, Chris, to name a few, took over and made it go on. After a while the crowd was getting so big that we had to move to the main space, much bigger and much more character. It was everything any artist, despite age, gender or anything, could hope to have. And young artists who didn't know where to go to let out their shine finally had a space where they could be themselves. Young singers had a place to shake off their stage fright. Young poets had a place that gave their rage a voice loud enough for the world. Soon enough Poetic Saturdays was helping its poets get international voices. We were getting invited by some of the best stages in the world and in Africa. But more than the opportunities that it creates, what keep us coming back is the people that we meet there. Once on every first Saturday of the month, who make us remember that all of this exists for us. The food for thoughts, being heard - solidarity." she concluded.
The Poetic Saturdays team is run by different artists from different backgrounds. Biniam Getaneh is a poet, media and communications professional. He serves as a host and organizer. Hanna Haile is a poet, film maker and social worker. Her bubbly personality and down to earth attitude suits her well when she hosts sessions. Chris Turnbull-Grimes a poet and experienced in organizing fundraising and working with different cultural groups hosts Poetic Saturdays with his energetic presence and with some Fendika made Tej by his hand, at times. Tsion Fisseha is a poet, marketing and communications professional the issues she raise through her poetry sets her apart from other authors, in a good way.
In November 2018, Poetic Saturdays has had the opportunity to participate on the first pan-African slam poetry competition, African Cup of Slam Poetry (ACSP/CASP), in N‟Djamena, Chad.
EthioCreatives would like to thank all Poetic Saturdays family for creating this breath of fresh air to every literature enthusiast once a month. You feel like you have a new purpose in life after every session. We need this reminder as a nation and even as a human being. We hope Poetic Saturdays will be around for a long time as it is our visible hideaway from our day to day stressful life.
Daniel Sahlu January 31 2019