Solomon Deressa – Poet, Screenwriter and Essayist
Solomon Deressa is an Ethiopian poet, screenwriter and essayist. His involvement in literary, theater and film production spans three decades on three continents.Through his writing he has voiced the challenges of living in different cultures as the “Hyphenated-Ethiopian,” a term he popularized in the late sixties.That phrase he coined over 30 years ago surely has passed the test of time as a new generation of Ethiopians has come to see it a fitting shorthand for their recent cultural experience in the Diaspora.
Solomon’s experience growing up in Addis Ababa, and his later travels across Africa, Europe and North America, exposed him to a multitude of cultures, thus bringing an aspect of introspection as well as a deep sense of humanity to his work as a writer.
His work has spanned a broad variety of topics and mediums: from an eight-part 1972 television series on African Liberation Wars, to a one-hour film documentary on modern Ethiopia; from a volume of poetry in Amharic, to magazine and journal articles in English, Amharic and French on art, and on current social and cultural trends in Ethiopia.Most students of Amharic literature recognize L’jnnet (Youth), his first volume of poems in Amharic, as a turning point for modern Ethiopian poetry.Outside of Ethiopia, his work has been reviewed in such publications as The Village Voice, and the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry, and the Encyclopedia of World Literature. Solomon’s second volume of Amharic poems, Zebet Ilfitu: Walotat, was published in Addis Ababa in 1999, and has received wide critical acclaim.He now devotes part of his time to writing, and part to conducting seminars on communications throughout the United States.Up until a year ago he also worked on film and television scripts for Blaze Productions, a film and video company then headquartered in Minneapolis.
Solomon is currently negotiating the publication of a volume of his English poems (a number of which have already appeared in anthologies, magazines and journals in the United States, Britain and Canada).He continues to read poems to audiences in the United States while working on a book on Ethiopian paintings.