Translator's notes

If People Were Rocks

By Bedilu Wakjira

Bedilu Wakjira is a new discovery for me. He is a professor at Addis Ababa University and a prolific journalist and poet. I found his three Amharic poetry collections on a crowded bookstall in Piassa and started to read them in my hotel. But I needed help and was lucky enough to be contacted by Fasika Ayalew, a poet who came across my article on Ethiopian poetry in The Missing Slate in March. Fasika chose a few of Bedilu’s poems which she liked and sent me her own poetic translations, rather than literals. We then went back and forth between the original text and Fasika’s translations, looking for ways to convey the distinctive personality of Bedilu’s extended metaphors, his frequent repetitions and informal but elegant syntax; and, of course, to serve the important message of hope which shines out of every Bedilu poem and is what makes him such an inspiring writer.

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