I consider Solomon Deressa to be one of the most excellent Ethiopian poets, along with Tsegaye GebreMedhin, Mengistu Lemma, Gebre Kristos Desta,and Debebe Seifu.
A one-time painter,an art critic and poet, Solomon has two collection of Amharic poems, Lijinet(1970) and Zebet Ilfitu(1999) which have been lyrical delight for lovers of modern and contemporary verse for the last three decades.
His excellent standards are maintained in both collections and manifested in his rich and intimate poems.
Admittedly not of the traditional school of poetry and a self-proclaimed rebel, Solomon spoke of drawing the feel of his Amharic poetry from the sound of the language itself, not the direct utterances, but the underlying rythms.
Though not widely known as his Amharic poems, he has also a collection of poems in French and English that appeared in various publications.Twelve of his English poems written while attending the 1972-73 session of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa were published in Topics,the United States Information Service. Others are included in anthology, Silence is Not Golden, A Critical Anthology of Ethiopian Literature,(1995),along with his wonderful essay, ‘Poems and its Matrix’.There were also French and English poems that were published in African Art, a quartelry devoted to the graphic, plastic, performing and literary arts of Africa in 1969 out of which I am publishing one, Shifting Gears.Over to you now.
I who swim
In the stealth of a dream
Listening to the minds of insane silence scream,
Because of colour lack
I shall paint your loving face
In the colourles breath,
With grapnel-fingers in an empty colour rack,
Beneath the quiet curve of your lashes
Two simple awesome dots in black,
You whose love never wavered
Towards whom I forever crack
On the tip of my parched tongue.