A Suite of Contemporary Ethiopian Poetry

Samsung Square
For a group of art performances in July 2013 called Wax and Gold organized by the Netsa Art Village, visual artist Mulugeta Gebrekidan presented “Invading Samsung Square” to protest the corporate advertising takeover of Addis Ababa’s public spaces. Click here to watch a video about the performances put together by the artists’ collective.

The lively center of the contemporary Ethiopian performance poetry scene can be found in the capital, Addis Ababa. Scores of young and old poets have approached the writers presented in this issue (Abebaw Melaku, Misrak Terefe, and Mihret Kebede) in the past two years, asking and auditioning to perform with them. According to Eric Ellingsen, whose essay “In the Listenings: The Gold Waxes” appears in the print edition, “Poetry is really considered a force shaping Addis Ababa today, and this group is a bit of a movement. There is nothing else like it.” 

As an online bonus, we present video clips from the Tobiya Poetic Jazz Group’s DVD, which was filmed at the Ras Hotel in Addis Ababa. Misrak Terefe’s long poem is also presented here as a web exclusive.


Eric Ellingsen is assistant professor of landscape architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and a member of Poetry-Jazz.