קופי טו גו

 The Waitress’ Poetry – Solidarity with the Employees of Coffee to Go

 
On Sunday, November 4, 2008 at 16:30, we are initiating an afternoon of poetry and music, to show support and solidarity with the waitresses of Coffee to Go (Elit) at Tel Aviv University, who are on strike.
 
            The Cultural Guerilla includes the magazines Maayan, Hakivun Mizrach, and Daka, Plonit Publishing House and the poetry store Poema, as well as many poets. Everyone is invited to come, protest, read, and hear poetry and music.
 
            In order to breach the striking waitresses, the café’s management sued the leaders of the struggle for 500,000 NIS. This is an opportunity to show these brave waitresses that a large public stands behind them, and show the bullies at Elit that human beings are not instant coffee.
           
In Conclusion
 
We extend our thanks to Liat Levi, who bothered and worried and brought all the equipment and ourselves to the entry of the university.
 
To the charming Yuval Ben-Ami, who hosted the event in a classic and eloquent manner.
To all the poets, editors, musicians, magazines: Daka, Hakivun Mizrach, and Maayan, and also to Plonit Publishing and the only poetry boutique in Tel Aviv – Poema.
 
To those who spared some time and came to the event.
 
And most important, to the waitresses and bartenders at Coffee to Go, who decided to struggle and oppose the social oppression! We are happy to join in a moment of Cultural Guerilla, to support and provide assistance. We hope your just battle will overcome!
 
The Victory of Poetry at the Coffee to Go Strike
 
Even though the strike in question included only some 36 waitresses, the results of the victory of Coffee to Go’s employees moved many people, and I am among them. I am not a devotee of victory; I usually tend to lose, and so had no other choice but to learn how to praise loss. But those 36 just girls proved that they can win over a multi-million corporation. They raised the new idea of struggling and then winning.
 
            This case also proved that poetry still has an impact. There were thirty musicians and poets in front of Coffee to Go in an event organized in one day by a few magazines. Apart from Aharon Shabtai, all the poets were anonymous, young, people you can call in the heat of the moment, poets who heard about the event and asked to join, and even a few of the strikers, who prepared a song. The atmosphere was devoid of ego, so prevalent in this sort of events. This was evident in Yuval Ben-Ami’s concise hosting, and the partisan, informal atmosphere. Usually the host praises and condemns the readers; here he simply stated their names, so they would know it was their turn to speak.
 
            The event was a success, but obviously problematic, as befits an improvised event whose budget, as far as I’m concerned, was 10.20 NIS, the price of the bus fare to and from the university. I am convinced that many poets did not even know the event took place, and surely would have come had they known. Also, I do not know whether the waitresses would or would have not reached the same results without us, and still, the goal was achieved: to provide a back wind and solidarity, which also brought the media, which is very important in this sort of struggles.
 
            When people asked, “how would this event help” I remained silent. To be straight, I was not silent because I was optimistic and sure of myself. I know my struggles, and I started thinking they may be right; I, too, started believing that resistance is at times back scratching, but the choice is one – not to do anything (which is not a bad choice, in many cases). Apparently I was wrong: poetry has an impact, and the struggle an effect. Beyond its artistic aspect, poetry has the advantage of flexibility: all a poet needs is a speaker (and he can survive without it.) There’s no need for space, drums, rehearsals, budgets, musicians, a crane. You can stand up and read a poem anywhere (preferably you’ll have someone to clap in the audience, so that people would know when the poem is over) – poetry’s natural place is in the town square. Some people still treat poetry with much respect, especially those who don’t really know poetry. When a poetry event is announced, the media and public still react with certain regard. The police will not evacuate people reading poetry, it doesn’t look right. Apart from that, there is a feeling of certain artistic immunity: one can say anything in a poem. Moreover, a lyric (or artistic) text is expected to be radical, to break from conformist ideology. The lyric text itself is modular: one can change the words while reading, or change the tone so that a certain theme becomes more prevalent. This is how I view poetry.
 
            Still, the majority of those dealing with poetry prefer the closed halls and theaters, a cultural and less flexible poetry, a poetry that usually does not say much neither inwards (the poem and the writer) nor outwards. This sort of poetry erases the advantages I presented. To be honest, there are advantages to reading poetry in a theater: it is more pleasant to hear poetry while sitting down, in a hall with good acoustics. My problem is that this kind of poetry, that does not retreat, is very often boring, and its political affect is weakened.