Poetry Festival will be held:

Saturday, April 27, 2024

2023 Winner

Fikir Lehagere

(Love for my Country)

Today I will write a poem about Ethiopia.


It will not be a list of wars in this dystopia

It will not be a list of the loved ones I’ve lost

It will not be a list of the unfortunate people on the streets.


But rather about the culture

the spicy smell of doro wot lingers in my nose

and onto my clothes

or the pungent smell of shunkerit and ithan

while walking out the house.


But rather the way we ignore the itchiness

of the colorful habesha kemist

dusted with gold and white

as we run, fashionably late, to the big event.


But rather the presence of my family

how last summer we laughed together

as we failed to be quiet at four in the morning;

how we danced eskista and gurageña

as people slapped money on our foreheads.


But rather the smell of really strong buna

coming from the jebena

while hearing the popcorn kernels pop

and the chatter of voices, talking and having a good time


But rather how the crickets chirp in the dark

like my country is wishing me a goodnight.


Marake Wosen

Parkmont School

Grade: 7


Washington, DC

Favorite Author or Book:

Kindred by Maya Angelou

Dream for the Future:

I want to be a lawyer.

Inspirational Figure:

My parents