My name is Tsion Fisseha. I am 27 years young. I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I am currently residing in Seattle, working as a visual analyst and I could not be further away from my craft.
In the 3rd grade, at a time when I had the first taste of loneliness, the universe aligned and introduced me to poetry. Since then I have been looking for a rhyme that can explain exactly how I feel and hope to continue to do so for the coming years.
As a girl who grew up with anxiety and depression, I draw inspiration from just that, pain! In the past couple of years however, I am seeing myself shifting and seeing inspiration in almost everything in life.
I have struggled to find my voice for so long that it is a mission of mine to be a voice for the voiceless, with their consent of course.
Inspiration and Process
I have been a part of different projects both on an organization level and a personal level. These projects mostly revolved around social justice and breaking down years of cultural beliefs and biases, which directly or indirectly affect our society. More specifically, I have been a part of poetry projects involving women’s equality and women’s rights, concerned with sexual assault, and thinking of a world that is more concerned with prevention rather than reprisal.
Most of the projects that I have been a part of on an organizational level have chosen me rather than me choosing them. Whenever these topics are given to me I first like to look within myself to understand the concept with no further research. I think this stage of my writing process gives me a raw idea of what I truly believe about the subject rather than what the media says or what my friends think.
If the topic is one that needs in-depth research, that is what I do next. However, if the topics go along the lines of emotions like love, which cannot be researched or analyzed through the scope of scientists or intellectuals, I move on to the stage where I write down my thoughts in the form of poetry.
I am not sure if a lot of poets do this but I like reading my poem over and over and over again until I am utterly immersed and I am emotionally attached to it.
Being a creative in Ethiopia is not a walk in the park especially if you intend to challenge the belief system with hopes to enlighten or show a different perspective. Having said that I truly believe that with the different contemporary artists that are making their way into the industry, it is becoming less of a hustle.
My specific challenge as an Ethiopian would have to be the language that I have chosen in which to write my poetry. Most people are insulted and/or offended that I have chosen a foreign language to speak about societal problems. I do believe that they come from the right place in terms of my art not reaching every audience but I am after all a product of the system.
Social Conversations and Art
I believe that social conversations and art should complement one another. In some ways, an artist’s perspectives are molded by their environment both in changing and appraising them. Core values of people from different walks of life are understood through social conversations held in different settings and different times. This is what allows art to blossom.
I think social conversations in Ethiopia are either believed to be a dead-end or a dangerous route. Art, however, could allow conversations to happen without the feeling of hopelessness. That is where an artist becomes more than a spectator in a small conversation, and that is when the artist loses passiveness.
The Artist and
Concerning different movements, artists play a significant role. I read somewhere that the role of the artist is the same as that of a lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you do not see.
Some artists choose to be neutral. Their role then becomes narration of the ongoing crisis, a documentation of the phenomenon. I would like to believe that I am an open-minded poet, but I also believe that if I don’t stand for anything I don’t fall for anything. I believe that an artist has a responsibility, not to provoke hate, or to bring to light the problems that have been simmering in the background, but to collectively find solutions instead of just making noise.
Having lived my entire life in Ethiopia, I struggled with being thrust into the midst of the BLM movement. As a person and as a poet I have never had to defend the color of my skin and this has made me realize that as a poet I should be versatile and ready to fight for everything that I believe in.
Facebook @Tsion Mira Terefe