October 29, 2011

100,000 Poets for Change – Israel

by Omri Ofek Luzon

A little bit about 100,000 Poets for Change, which took place on the 24th of September.

100,000 Poets for Change is a worldwide event to promote awareness for change and culture. The idea was to hold poetry related events, all around the world, by volunteers of course, and to wake and shake the world up. In each participating country and city there was 1 or a group of organizers, trying their best to do something meaningful. I can’t tell you about all the events, because there are too many to count, but you can check online what happened in your area (link at the bottom).

When a friend of mine, called Adam, told me about this event I was skeptical. I’ve been working in 4 jobs lately (yes – imagine that, now try to fill up a schedule with it), packed with studies and papers, and my band was ready to the return to the stages after months of silence (I’ll tell you about it in later journals). I checked online, realized there were 3 different Israeli organizers, and decided that they can manage on their own. So I forgot.

A month later Adam tells me he really needs another hand on this project, and asks me to join again. I said to myself – well, you know, it’s a worthy cause, and maybe if I won’t do too much I might handle it. So I said I’ll try. We’ve met Prof. Karen Alkalay-Gut, which was the one who brought Adam into this, and talked about few things. From here to there I found myself neck deep in a HUGE event. And when I say huge this is what I mean –

We held 4 different events throughout the day. 10AM Saturday morning we went to Tel Aviv’s beach walkway and pictured over 100 people holding with words they picked to create a huge poem (soon to be uploaded online). At 3PM we had poetry reading at Bookworm Book Store, with over 15 readers and 50 listeners. At 6PM we had a reading at CafeCafe Coffee Place, again – 16 readers and about 45 listeners. And at the evening, start 9PM, we held the biggest event at Papa’s Restaurant. At this last event we had about 18 readers, half of are the elite of the poets in Israel, the other half are a mix of really unknown upcoming artists and a few in the midrange.

Throughout this thing we were interviewed to the radio and running around like crazies to make sure everything was working great. And it was amazing. It was really amazing. The entire team who worked on this – everybody were amazing. This turned out to be one huge poetry event with a sum of over 300 participants. For a country where a casual poetry event has barely 20 participants – this is was a huge success. We were all surprised at our capabilities.

Yup, crazy times.

Did you have a 100,000 Poets for Change event? If so, tell me about it.


More soon.

– Omri.


The site: http://www.bigbridge.org/100thousandpoetsforchange

October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs Legacy

by Omri Ofek Luzon

It’s been 56 years for the Apple-man Steve Jobs, and during these years we saw an amazing change in both the computing world and our way of living. I could easily point a finger at Jobs as one of the major reasons for that change, but to be honest – it’s not interesting.

Yes, I know it’s cruel, or maybe insensitive to say such a thing. But seriously, when it all comes down to it – when you die, does it really matter? When everything you’ve created comes down to a moment in which the world cease to be for you, than what does it all really mean? And if that’s not a better question than the legacy of Steve Jobs – then things turned a bit too technical. And yes, that is one thing I can blame Steve Jobs for: The world is turning too fast. Life is moving too fast.

I don’t know much about the world, but I’m sure that whatever it is I will eventually understand – it would probably not mean as much as what I won’t understand. And that idea, of not understanding, scares me much more than what I do understand. Our modern world vision is all about accessibility – lightening fast information, easy access, reach-ability, intuitiveness, with the touch of a finger. All that hard labor for what? You got it right – Angry Birds.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a much softer and faster world, and things are easier and much more comfortable now than 56 years ago – and that’s a remarkable thing for which Mr. Jobs contributed more than I can imagine. Still, don’t you sometime wish to just write something down, the old way, with a pencil and a paper, just for the sake of knowing that “Damnit! I can do it my way!”?

September 4, 2011

Antigone, I’m sorry. I was wrong.

by Omri Ofek Luzon
When I studied SophoclesAntigone, back at high school, I was bored as hell. There were good reasons for it though, allow me to elaborate:

My back then Literature teacher, I don’t remember her name neither am interested in it, was probably the most annoying person I ever had the misfortune of trying to argue with. I’m an MA student for English Literature nowadays, which goes to say something about the way I perceive and approach the written word, but back then I was just a student, like the rest of the class. And when she taught us a poem which I disagreed on the meaning of, I was dimmed by her – illiterate. She sent me to an observation, claiming I did not know how to read or at least understand what I was reading. So maybe there’s no surprise that Antigone, one of the subjects of the class, was such a horrible memory in my mind.

Few weeks ago my mother went to the local library and there it was – a pile of carton boxes filled with English books donated to the library which didn’t want them. It was dying slowly in the sun, the pages turning yellow, and one of the boxes spilled all over the sidewalk, a very sad sight. She couldn’t bear it and called me, and I had to salvage whatever I could.
Sophocles’ Theban Plays was one of these books, a Penguin Classics edition, nothing too fancy really. Reading it I just couldn’t stop – I’m still pretty shocked at how interesting a read it is! The translation seems to be rather smooth, although a bit too accessible and lacking in the high art department – it still is a very good start for a reader who is less familiar with Greek plays. I enjoyed this thoroughly and will definitely return to reread it. A wonderful work! And I thought to myself – damn! Is this the same Antigone I’ve met in the past?

The moral of the story is this –

Your teachers are not always right, and when they are wrong – don’t let it hurt you. It will only result in a 10 years of delay in your life.

To my review of Theban Plays on Goodreads.com – CLICK HERE
June 18, 2011

The Importance of Poetry

by Omri Ofek Luzon

I have been looking online at poetry readings. It’s a little thing that got into my head, that maybe if I’ll hear poets reading their own works it will, magically, spring something inside, and make the poetry world more understandable.

For those who don’t know me, I have been searching for the meaning of the word Poetry in the context of the word Contemporary for quite a while. I am trying, desperately, to conceptualize the idea of the importance of poetry on our lives, our modern lives, this and here moment. It seems that the art of poetry is not disappearing, but being pushed aside, marginalized, decapitated. The body is still here, the worms are feeding on it, some flowers still grow atop of its grave, but it is not walking, hardly kicking, merely speaking.

I’ve been searching for you Poetry, day and night. Writing you. Studying you. Breathing you. I’ve been searching for you in the folds of old books, internet sites, Kindle editions, lectures. I’ve been searching for you in late night readings, old cassettes, cinematic movies, YouTube clips. I’ve been looking and looking, searching and searching, and the more I need to search the more tiresome it feels.

Here’s an interesting attempt, made by former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins, which I found fascinating and interesting. You have to admit that this is working in its own strange way, on the consciousness and sub-consciousness at the same time –

Or this fine attempt at making poetry accessible, or at least Spoken Word arts, which is but a sub-division of Poetry. Def Poetry is an interesting and intriguing show! I have to see more episodes of it. In this one, Sarah Kay is doing an amazing job here, and this is as inspiring as it gets, if you ask me.

But coming down to it, where do we feel Poetry’s influence in a contemporary way? Where is it really? What is its importance?

Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Mark Strand was visiting Israel a few weeks ago, and after a beautiful reading, in Tel Aviv University, where he read from  his upcoming work, I got the opportunity of asking him this question – What is the importance of Poetry? He replied, without much of hesitation, that it Poetry a personal thing, and its importance is personal.

Another amazing poet, Bernard Horn, who I also had the chance of asking the same question, said that Poetry has a more global effect, that we cannot ignore the implication of Poetry on our history and our lives.

Both answers seem to be of the truth, but I feel that there’s something incomplete about this topic, as a whole. The importance of poetry, the meaning of poetry, the idea of poetry. I still have to ask why.

June 12, 2011

The Silencing of Poetry

by Omri Ofek Luzon

In regard to the article – Female Poet Brought Before Bahrain Military Tribunal, by Adrian Blomfield of The Telegraph

Female poet brought before Bahrain military tribunal

As the fight for democracy and equal rights is ensuing in the Arabic countries, we see how the voice of the poet is still threatening the government. Who would have thought that now, in the 2011, the voice of a poet is just as frightening as it once was. Frightening enough as to execute and shut a poet up.

“Arrested after reading a self-penned poem to anti-government protesters in the Bahraini capital Manama”


And notice the fine, yet very bold, words:

“Bahraini human rights activists say that although Miss Ghermezi was not raped, she was badly tortured while in custody.”

This goes to tell us of the conditions in the cell, and of the importance of the human rights, that are being denied. The voice of the people, a term which I thought was long dead, is echoing as strong as ever. Let’s read her words –

“We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery

We are the people who will destroy the foundation of injustice

Don’t you hear their cries, don’t you hear their screams?”

For me it is a harsh scream for justice, for life, for love. The 20 years old poet, Ayat al-Ghermezi, will probably be forgotten in the stream of time, but I am in great hope that the meaning of her words shall never fade away, echo forever, until the world will learn.