the short biography.
Luka Lesson is an Australian born poet and rap artist of Greek heritage. Luka’s work engages with the mythology of his family homeland, fiercely political opinions on Australian society and the introspective reflections on his personal life. An author of two independently published collections, as well as two full-length recorded albums, Luka has been commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria, had poems published in a number of international anthologies, and toured with the likes of Dr Cornell West (USA), Nahko & Medicine for the People (USA), Akala (UK) & Shane Koyczan (Canada). Most recently Luka was commissioned to write a new concerto entitled ‘Macquarie’, with composer Gordon Hamilton for The Queensland Symphony Orchestra. In 2017, Luka established his very own annual poetry retreat program in his grandfather’s village on the Greek island of Rhodes. Over the course of his career, Luka has always used education programs as a form of activism and social change in schools and universities worldwide, his poem 'May Your Pen Grace The Page' will appear on the NSW Australian high school English curriculum from 2019-2024.
the long biography.
Luka Lesson is an Australian born poet and rap artist of Greek heritage. Starting as a fan of Hip-hop, Luka’s love for words and popular storytelling came through his connection with artists such as Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. in the early 1990s. After a few years of quiet writing and recording songs in his friend’s garage, ‘Lesson MC’ as he was known, discovered Slam Poetry on YouTube as a viewer of artists such as Lemon Anderson, Mayda del Valle and Gemineye, and immediately started writing ‘raps without the music’ - heavily rhyming poems aimed at acapella performances to live crowds. Soon after Luka and a group of local poets set up a regular live show: ‘Words or Whatever’ at Blackstar Cafe in Brisbane’s West End. Eventually, after completing his undergraduate degree in Anthropology and his first class honours in Indigenous Studies, Luka moved to Melbourne in 2010, where he soon won the Melbourne Poetry Slam, The Greens Slam, the Victorian State Poetry Slam Final and the Australian Poetry Slam Final as well as travelling to the U.S. to compete in the Individual World Poetry Slam where he placed 19th out of 73 participants. While in Melbourne Luka also co-curated the ‘Tell It Like It Is’ regular poetry events at Footscray Arts Centre, and completed a Masters of Sound Design (Poetry Performance) at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University, supervised by Dr Roger Alsop.
From 2012 onwards Luka Lesson has been a full-time poet, one of the few artists of his kind in Australia. Luka’s work engages with the mythology of his family homeland, fiercely political opinions on Australian society and the introspective reflections of his own personal life. An author of two independently published collections: The Future Ancients (2013) & Antidote (2015), as well as two full-length recorded albums: Please Resist Me (2012) & EXIT (2014) Luka has also been featured on albums by U.S. artists Trevor Hall and Nahko & Medicine for the People, as well as Melbourne rap stalwart One Sixth and Greek Hip-hop outfit Active Member. Luka has been commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria & The National Poetry Library of Scotland, had poems published in South African collections ‘Home is Where the Mic Is’ and ‘Voices of the Land’ and had his work featured in ‘Southern Sun, Aegean Light’ as anthology of Greek-Australian poets. He has toured nationally with the likes of Dr Cornell West (USA), Akala (UK), Shane Koyczan (Canada), Tiki Taane (NZ), Nahko and Medicine for the People (USA), as well as talented singer-songwriter Kahl Wallis for the release of their single ‘Living Artefact’ (2017). Luka has also appeared at the Beijing Bookworm Literature Festival, Hong Kong Literature Festival, Hong Kong Young Readers and Writers Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Sydney Writers Festival, Brisbane Writers Festival, Ubud Writers Festival, Auckland Writers Festival & Makassar International Writers Festival. He has also appeared at the OneBlood Hiphop Festival in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Wanderlust Festival in Taupo, New Zealand, Uplift Festival and Splendour in the Grass in Byron Bay, to name a few.
In 2018 Luka was commissioned to write a new concerto entitled ‘Macquarie’ with composer Gordon Hamilton for The Queensland Symphony Orchestra. The work interrogates the life of Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who is seen as a hero by some through his ambitious colonial expansion, and a villain by others for personally ordering the first government-sanctioned massacre of Indigenous people: the Appin Massacre (1816). In 2017, Luka established his very own annual poetry retreat program in his grandfather’s village on the Greek island of Rhodes. The Rhodes Poetry retreat runs in September every year and has welcomed poets from Australia, the U.S., India, New Zealand & Greece. Luka’s long term project, ‘Odysseus’ is a retelling of the Ancient Greek story of The Odyssey in Hip-hop and spoken word, accompanied by a live orchestra and choir. With composition by James Humberstone (Sydney Conservatorium), direction by Sam Foster (Shock Therapy Productions) & video by Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore (Her Sound, Her Story), Luka has created a modern parable of Odysseus’ famous journey, permeated with modern parallels and important lessons for our time. Odysseus is set to premiere in late 2019.
Over the course of his career, Luka Lesson has always used education programs as a form of activism and social change in schools and universities worldwide. Since his first set of Hip-hop workshops at Milpera State High School in Brisbane in 2006, Luka has worked with young people from across the planet in a diverse range of linguistic, cultural, social and educational contexts. From poetry workshops in the city schools of Bronx (NYC), to writing poems with young people on the beaches of Maningrida, N.T., Luka has committed his time and efforts to make sure young diverse voices are amplified and heard in a world that often works against them. As well as having visited hundreds of Australian education centres throughout his career, Luka has also facilitated workshops at Hong Kong International School, Shanghai Community International School, International School of Beijing, Western Academy Beijing, United Nations International School of Hanoi, South Saigon International School, Renaissance College of Hong Kong and Australian International School of Kuala Lumpur. Fittingly, Luka’s poem 'May Your Pen Grace The Page', will appear on the NSW Australian High School English Curriculum from 2019-2024. This is the first time the words ‘performance poetry’ have ever been used in an Australian School Curriculum, opening the door for many poets to come. This seems to be a worthy metaphor for a career committed to high quality writing, and constantly in service of the powerful young voices to come.