Ishmael Annobil is a London-based Ghanaian poet, filmmaker, journalist, emblemist and digital composer. Born in Accra, Ghana, in 1958, Ishmael started writing poetry at the age of 11, and entered journalism soon after high school. He has directed several keynote art documentaries, including Hornsleth: Product of Love, Kenji Yoshida: Artist of the Soul; and In the Presence of Awe: The Transvangarde. Apart from Covid-19 Conversation, Ishmael has completed Choreographing the Page, a definitive documentary on Linda Karshan, and series of her pioneering ‘walked drawings.’ His surreal feature, Salamander Walks, is currently in post, and his forthcoming fictional films include Icarus, a folk sci-fi feature, and Drosophila, a psychological thriller. He has lived in Sudan and Kenya, where he performed his acclaimed poetry show, Criers on the Thresholds of Reality for refugees and the homeless. He is the founder of the Welsh poetry festival, Iolo’s Children, and Wales’ first serious arts journal, Circa21 Newspaper.
A master photographer, and pioneer of important low-light techniques, Ishmael’s photography has been published in prominent publications, including The Independent Newspaper, and the prestigious French magazine M3. Anthologised in Another English: Anglophone Poems from Around the World (The Poetry Foundation, America, 2014), Ishmael has published two books of poetry namely Seven Horn Elegy and Ethiop, a monograph of modern emblems for the Gadangme people, Abetei, a major photographic monograph of his photography, Insomnia, and one music album, Zingliwu. He is currently finishing Inklings of Clay, an historical novella set in the aftermath of the last Anglo-Ashanti War, Ghana. He is the founder/editor of online art and design journal Chiaroscuro Magazine, and founder/Producer of Stonedog Productions, a film collective noted for derring-do filmmaking and poetics. He is an ardent surrealist and magical realist; two approaches he attributes to his reading of Kafka’s Metamorphosis "at the impressionable age of nine", and a cementing encounter with Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, just before finishing high school, "thanks to my truancy". His favourite hobby is the coinage of proverbs and emblems.
Portrait by Max Mallen