Slam Poet Luka Lesson on Inspiration, the Writing Process, and Tips for Aspiring Writers
“Poems begin in a million different ways.”
Just as poems may begin in a million different ways, Luka Lesson, a poet who has just recently visited HKIS, has inspired and impacted a million different people worldwide. Luka Lesson is an Australian-born full-time poet with Greek heritage who has published two independent collections and two recorded albums and is touring the world.
For Luka, poetry is his primary tool of expression. Having discovered it through hip hop and slam poetry online, poems have since become a safety net for him, a sanctuary which he can forever turn to during any moment of his life. He discovered how raw poetry was: because it doesn’t require music or even a microphone, it is an immediate and impactful emotion that is entirely constructed through language. His poems are powerful, and his pen is his sword, for the words with which he graces his pages are the “building blocks of societies, the architecture of communities.” He says, “Words make the world around us – they make our thoughts, they make our judgments, and they build up meaning.”
It’s true: with an original, exposed, and yet classical style, Luka’s words touch people from all lanes of life, holding messages that are intricate, personal, and eternal. His first album Please Resist Me is an epitome of his values, as it sought to speak to the powers of the world – powers that seek to exploit, undermine, and diminish people and communities. As he speaks of the strength that can be found in struggles, along with the essence of resistance and change, one is inexplicably drawn to the power and relevance of his words to our daily lives.
One might wonder where the inspiration for his poems come from, and to this, he gives no simple answer. He says, “Poetry isn’t mine. I don’t believe that I’m the driving force of my writing; inspiration happens on its own.” For example, his poem Antidote was inspired by conversation with a friend who had cancer. Luka had taken her beanie shopping, and they had talked about how her son had shaved her head, and how she wanted to hear other people’s problems so as to take her mind off her own. They discussed two Greek words - ιατρική και δηλητήριο (antidote and poison), and how in the Greek language, they both mean the same. Gradually, from that conversation, stemmed a poem – a poem that built upon pain and healing, a poem that understands human suffering and sheds upon it a new light.
Despite his passion, being a full-time poet isn’t simple. He says, “On stage, I feel comfortable, I feel in love, I feel at home, but there’s a lot of work behind a performance. For every moment I spend on stage, there’s a month of work behind it: admin, organization, writing…”
Sometimes, it even takes him up to a couple of years to complete a poem because that is what it takes for him to get the message of the poem across in the perfect way. For him, writing poetry is all about “hitting the nail on the head”: a good poem is able to convey its message clearly to the world. He says that unless you know what you’re really trying to say, and unless you’ve meditated upon your themes, researched the subject thoroughly, or found sufficient inspiration, then the writing will never be complete.
That is why his advice for present writers is to write about something they are passionate about. “Don’t write about things that other people expect you to write about.” He tells aspiring writers that if you’re not passionate about your message, it makes it very difficult to research, write, memorize, and perform. Yet if you can be passionate about something, he says, those efforts put into writing would be much easier, for passion “is what creates the fuel in the fire”.
“Poems and words, they’re like mantras, they’re like affirmations. They can make the atmosphere of a room completely shift, and that’s magical to me.” Through his thoughts and through his paper, with his blazing passion and fervor, Luka Lesson creates a whole new world built of words in which people are ignited with inspiration, and brimming with humanity.