A Sound Flag in Six Colors

translated by Mihret Kebede
The flag of Ethiopia spray painted on a brick wall
Photo: Pixabay / David Peterson

A Sound Flag: United States of America

by Eric Ellingsen

Various syllable clusters arranged to resemble the American flag

Author’s note: The flag is part of Poetry Jazz: Wax & Gold, a poetry project series by the Institut für Raumexperimente (Institute for Spatial Experiments), Berlin, in dialogue with Tobiya Poetic Jazz, Addis Ababa (www.raumexperimente.net).
fud = fear uncertainty and disinformation = star
rbtl = read between the lines = blue background
irl = in real life = red stripe
wtf = what the fuck = red stripe
oic = oh I see = white stripe
lol = lots of love = white stripe


A Sound Flag: Ethiopia

A translation of Eric Ellingsen’s “A Sound Flag: United States of America”
by Mihret Kebede

The Ethiopian Flag goes like this

Green Yellow Red Green Yellow Red Green Yellow Red 

አረንጓዴ ቢጫ ቀይ አረንጓዴ ቢጫ ቀይ አረንጓዴ ቢጫ ቀይ አረንጓዴ ቢጫ ቀይ

And the meaning goes like this Development Hope Scarifies Development Hope Scarifies
Development Hope Scarifies Development Hope Scarifies Development Hope Scarifies
ሕይወት ተስፋ መስዋዕት ሕይወት ተስፋ መስዋዕት ሕይወት ተስፋ መስዋዕት ሕይወት ተስፋ መስዋዕት

ቀለምና ሕይወት ሕይወት እና ቀለም ቀለምና ሕይወት
ሕይወት እና ቀለም ቀለምና ሕይወት ሕይወት እና ቀለም 

መች ነው ሚዛመደው ሕይወት ተስፋና ደም ? መች ነው ሚዛመደው ሕይወት ተስፋና ደም ?

Wax and Gold Wax and Gold Wax and Gold Wax and Gold
ሰምና ወርቅ ሰምና ወርቅ ሰምና ወርቅ ሰምና ወርቅ ሰምና ወርቅ

አ አ አ አ አ አ አ አ አ አ አ አ አ … አረንጓዴ ቀ ቀ ቀ ቀ ቀ ቀ ቀ ቀ ቀ ቀ ቀ ቀ …  ቀይ በ በ በ በ በ በ በ በ በ በ በ በ በ. …

በበበበበበበበበበበበበበ ቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀ ተተተተተተተተተተተተተተተተተ ተተ ተተ ተ
ተ ተ …. ተ በ ተ ን ! ቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀ ቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀ
ቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀቀ ቀ ቀ ቀ ቀ ቀቀቀቀ ቀቀቀቀ….. ቁም 

Translation from the English


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

Mihret Kebede was born in Dessie, Ethiopia. Mihret is the founding director of Netsa Art Village, an artists’ collective, and manager of the Ethio color/Fendika band, and the Tobiya Poetic Jazz event. Mihret is currently a PhD candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Her dissertation concerns Silence.