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Gammo Poem: Born in Ethiopia The New Style of English Poetry

by Alemseged Sisay

Poetry is the other way of using language. Perhaps in some hypothetical beginning of things it was the only way of using language or simply was language tout court, prose being the derivative and younger rival. Both poetry and language are fashionably thought to have belonged to ritual in early agricultural societies; and poetry in particular, it has been claimed, arose at first in the form of magical spells recited to ensure a good harvest. Whatever the truth of this hypothesis, it blurs a useful distinction: by the time there begins to be a separate class of objects called poems, recognizable as such, these objects are no longer much regarded for their possible yam-growing properties, and such magic as they may be thought capable of has retired to do its business upon the human spirit and not directly upon the natural world outside.

Formally, poetry is recognizable by its greater dependence on at least one more parameter, the line, than appears in prose composition. This changes its appearance on the page; and it seems clear that people take their cue from this changed appearance, reading poetry aloud in a very different voice from their habitual voice, possibly because, as Ben Jonson said, poetry “speaketh somewhat above a mortal mouth.” If, as a test of this description, people are shown poems printed as prose, it most often turns out that they will read the result as prose simply because it looks that way; which is to say that they are no longer guided in their reading by the balance and shift of the line in relation to the breath as well as the syntax.

That is a minimal definition but perhaps not altogether uninformative. It may be all that ought to be attempted in the way of a definition: Poetry is the way it is because it looks that way, and it looks that way because it sounds that way and vice versa.

People’s reason for wanting a definition is to take care of the borderline case, and this is what a definition, as if by definition, will not do. That is, if an individual asks for a definition of poetry, it will most certainly not be the case that he has never seen one of the objects called poems that are said to embody poetry; on the contrary, he is already tolerably certain what poetry in the main is, and his reason for wanting a definition is either that his certainty has been challenged by someone else or that he wants to take care of a possible or seeming exception to it: hence the perennial squabble about distinguishing poetry from prose, which is rather like distinguishing rain from snow— everyone is reasonably capable of doing so, and yet there are some weathers that are either-neither.

Sensible things have been said on the question. The poet T.S. Eliot suggested that part of the difficulty lies in the fact that there is the technical term verse to go with the term poetry, while there is no equivalent technical term to distinguish the mechanical part of prose and make the relation symmetrical. The French poet Paul Valéry said that prose was walking, poetry dancing. Indeed, the original two terms, prosus and versus, meant, respectively, “going straight forth” and “returning”; and that distinction does point up the tendency of poetry to incremental repetition, variation, and the treatment of many matters and different themes in a single recurrent form such as couplet or stanza.

American poet Robert Frost said shrewdly that poetry was what got left behind in translation, which suggests a criterion of almost scientific refinement: when in doubt, translate; whatever comes through is prose, the remainder is poetry. And yet to even so acute a definition the obvious exception is a startling and a formidable one: some of the greatest poetry in the world is in the Authorized or King James Version of the Bible, which is not only a translation but also, as to its appearance in print, identifiable neither with verse nor with prose in English but rather with a cadence owing something to both.

I, personally define poetry as a systematic way of ordering words in line with some defined metering to make a perfect rhyming with other lines which are in turn to give bliss to the perceiver by creating rhythm as musical sense.

It is after a long tradition of Amharic literature that Ethiopian literature in English came to the scene. Some researchers like Beer (1975) who looked in to the English literary activity of this country argue that Ethiopian literature in English is an outcome of the past decades or so. And the African poetry encompasses the wide variety of traditions arising from Africa’s 55 countries and from evolving trends within different literary genres. It is a large and complex subject, partly because of Africa’s original linguistic diversity but primarily because of the devastating effect of slavery and colonization, which resulted in English, Portuguese and French, as well as Creole or pidgin versions of these European languages, being spoken and written by Africans across the continent.

This perspective contextualizes the historical, political and indigenous cultural dynamics that shaped both the written and oral forms of literature (orature) of Africa past and present. If African orature depends on community and social setting, it can be said that ore “grows out of tradition and keeps tradition alive”.

Present-day spoken-word and performance poetry, with its multidimensional forms of expression incorporating song, story-telling narratives, rhythm, rhyme, verse, movement/ dance plus the modern media forms of digital recording, composition and video projection, can be viewed as logical evolutions of the ancient indigenous oral traditions. Since 2000 the Internet has also emerged as a publishing channel for the promotion of both written and performed African poetry.

Numerous examples of pre-colonial African literature span the continent, from scripts documenting the kings of Ethiopian and Ghanaian empires, as well as popular folklore in a host of native languages, through to Mali’s famous Timbuktu Manuscripts, dating from the 16th to 18th centuries, with a wide array of subject matter, including astronomy, poetry, law, history, faith, politics and philosophy. In medieval times the universities of North Africa amassed Arabic and Swahili literature.

Unto now, Africa has not its own poetry style. All African poets and poetesses have used western styles of verse making. Those styles are the Japanese Haiku or Tanka, the English’s Shakespearean rhyming and Shakespeare sonnet, the French’s Ballad and Ballade style, origin limerick, Rondeau and other recognized Poetry styles have been widely used in African poetry style with the mere forms of couplets, tercets, quatrain and more that that which are resembled with Amharic poetry rhyming scheme.

Gammo style of English poetry, or Gammo Poem is the new age English poetry which is added on the existing poetic styles of the world. Before this style, Africa had not its own English poetry style; however, all countries have their own tradition and stylistic method of making verse by their native language. The focus is here about English poetry style.

Gammo Poetry style is born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2018 G.C by English and Amharic language poet and writer Alemseged Sisay worldemariam ( Alemeye Gammo) on the boulevards of Addis Ababa city. More than 1000 poems are written by Alemseged Sisay and published 8 books on and online shopping. Two books are prepared for online publishing one from the poet’s pieces of collections which has 100 English poems to be the 9th book; and the other is worldwide Anthology of Gammo poems with a book title of “fragrances of Gammo Style: Anthology of worldwide collection”. In this anthology book different English poems written with Gammo style from all corners of global poets and poetesses are gathered. Off Couse, the Anthology book is the responsibility of Ethiopians and the Gammo name owners because it is a good will of Ethiopia to promote the country with its style. Concerned bodies ought to take it and publish it to universities and high school’s English literature references as well as to include it in poetry education.

Today many poets and poetesses from all corner of the world has writing with Gammo Style of English Poetry and has getting popularity with the perseverance effort of me using the social medias.

Gammo Style of Poetry has Four types. Gammo Haneka, Gammo Kamba, Gammo Sonnet, and Gammo Leveled with their distinct characteristics. General Characteristics of Gammo Style are: Three lines makes a stanza, two consecutive lines in each stanzas must have rhyme; The 3rd lines of the first, the second, or more stanzas of each stanza must have to rhyme; The first and the second line of each stanza must have a rhyme , or it can be the 2nd and the third line must be rhyming; The third line of each stanzas must have a rhyme with the next or the upper stanzas third line ; The third line of each stanza’s shall end with full stop, While you cross check it, the simplest and the basic output of all types of Gammo Poem is a couplet. Basic Rhyming Scheme of Gammo Poem are ABB ABB ….; or AAB AAB…..;AAB CBB, or ABB CBB….. The combination of rhyme in Gammo poem places in those four rhyming patterns. This is to mean there are three options of rhyming.

Let’s take a look on the Haneka Gammo from Allyssa Persad, from Trinidad and Tobago.


Night fell like black ink spilled,
The trees trembled tall and chilled.
No sound but the ring of silence.

Now and then a fire fly flickered,
And a few stray dogs bickered.
A story of the nights magnificence.

Serenity of the silence penetrates,
Repetitive Prayers levitates.
Lonely hearts soaked in tears.

Some fade into dream paradise,
Others to hell left paralyzed.
Some awake reliving the days fears.

A night of pleasures and pain interrupted,
As the sun soaks into the darkness disrupted.
Ready for the new day dawn beings.


 Kamba is an English Poetry born in Ethiopia which has built with a minimum of two stanzas. Each stanza has three lines and metering of syllables. Each line of the entire stanza shall have equal syllables with the first line of the first stanza.

Let’s take a look on the next Gammo Kamba Poem Written by Poet Santosh Kumar, Bhutanese poet, titled Tears Invites Mishaps.

TEARS INVITES MISHAPS ©® Santosh Kumar — Bhutan “ Kamba gammo”

My fair lady, when I’m gone, (8)

I know well, you’ll cry all alone, (8)

I tell you, tears invite mishaps. (8)

You’re now weary out of your love, (8)

In my heart, I keep you above, (8)

Send in riant, let safety claps. (8)

In abroad, I’m going for short, (8)

You shall wait for more love to court, (8)

And receive back with closer wraps. (8)

The Ethiopian herald Newspaper, May 31,2020

Gammo Sonnet is an English Poetry born in Ethiopia which has built with exactly fourteen lines with ten syllables in each line. The total stanzas of Gammo Sonnet are five and the last stanza has only two rhyming lines or its a couplet. All other stanzas have three lines and follows the basic rhyming scheme of Gammo Poem.

Example of Gammo Sonnet

Trapped in own thinking,Poetess Bhumika Shekhawat from India

On the upper branch of a tree
A creature was sitting and was free
Watching a man trying but still sinking

The creature was a gentle toad
So he jumped to the road
Cause he had a habit of helping

Began swimming to that lost guy
With a floater because he can’t fly
And reached to the man who was screaming

By the face, he was seemed like cool
But literally he was really a fool
Still, he had no brain and was shrinking

When the toad came close, he found the man was just drinking
“Oh gosh”, the toad was trapped in his own thinking


To be Continued.