Luka Lesson (Luke Haralampou) is a leading Greek Australian slam poet and a self described “conscious hip-hop artist.” With a unique style and talent that has touched many worldwide, he has performed with international artists and was also invited on stage at the famous Nuyorican Poet’s Café in New York.
Describing his work as a “cross between Eminem, Homer, Shakespeare and Rumi,” he retells stories from his Yiayia through to quoting Greek philosophy; touching on raw and real subjects such as racism and stereotypes.
Luka is equally passionate about working with young people to develop their power of expression, and to utilise the form of the spoken (and written) word as a means of empowerment, a form of self-determination, creating awareness for marginalised and disempowered youth.
He is also very committed to standing with communities of all backgrounds to establish a connection between social issues, poetry and self-empowerment. Luka has become a much sought after speaker and motivator, including university appearances in China, teaching students in The Bronx (USA), Indigenous programs in Australia and a residency at Melbourne’s premier private secondary institution, Xavier College, in Melbourne.
His first album Please Resist Me was published in February 2012. The album name, and specifically the song entitled “Please Resist Me” speaks to colonial powers, and powers that further seek to exploit, undermine and diminish people and communities and the strength that can be found in this struggle, and its contribution to change.
Performing his favourite selection of poetry from a career spanning more than ten years and five different countries, Luka Lesson will be giving audiences a unique insight into the stories behind the works tonight in Sydney.
The performance will cover themes of Luka’s own Greek heritage, racism and social commentary as well as selections from his new creative project, a contemporary re-imagining of Homer’s Odyssey. Witness the re-invigoration of this classical text as performed by one of the most inspiring wordsmiths of today.
GCT had a chat to Luka before he appears on stage tonight.
When did your passion for poetry begin?
I fell in love with words through music as I was growing up. Listening to Tupac tell stories over a beat felt like magic to me – it wasn’t until later that I discovered performance poetry and realised that my ancestors also told similar draperies in rhyme and with rhythm over older instruments but with the same raw energy.
How did you realise you had such a special way with words?
I think this was with me from a young age, I always loved telling jokes and being the funny kid in my family, and at school English and Italian were my best subjects. Languages in general are my thing, and at school I was regularly being asked to host things or present at assembly and for some reason I felt more comfortable on stage than off. That continues today.
Can you give us a brief on the themes you cover especially on your Greek heritage.
I tell stories from my Yiayia to Ancient Greek philosophy. Experiences of racism and the truth about growing up Greek in Brisbane. My poems get to the crux of the details around what it means for me to be Greek in today’s world and not in a stereotypical or generic way, my experiences have been diverse and my poetry reflects that.
Can you please give us a little insight into your new project- re-imagining Homer’s Odyssey.
After being approached to collaborate with James Humberstone, a composer at the Sydney Conservatorium, I decided to tackle the almost impossible task of reimagining The Odyssey in spoken word, poetry and rap. It is similar to a recent hip hop theatre show called Hamilton that has become massive in the U.S., but with Classical Greek language embedded in the story and a use of the mythological to make commentary on the modern world. It’s still being finished, but when it is done it will be a 90 minute performance with an orchestra, hip hop beats and video projections.
Where to next for Luka Lesson and where will you be performing next?
The next thing for me is the Living Poets Society tour – a solo poetry tour where I will be performing some of my well known pieces as well as excerpts from the Odyssey project around the country.
You can catch Luka Lesson live tonight in Sydney →
Date: Friday 17 March
Start time: 7.00 pm
Venue: Cell Block Theatre, National Art School. Forbes St & Burton Street, Darlinghurst
Booking details: 9750 0440 or [email protected]