קריית גת

 Polgat Poetry

 
On Tuesday, April 22, 2009, a historic event will take place at the entrance to the closed Polgat factory in Kiryat Gat: for the first time a varied group of poets from Tel Aviv come to identify and express solidarity with a social cause in the periphery – the shutting down of the Polgat factory in Kiryat Gat.
 
            Among the poets to partake in the event: Yudit Shachar, Bracha Sari, Shira Ohion, Nimrod Kamer, Avi Elias, Efrat Kedem, Yehezkel Nafshi, Aharon Shabtai, Navit Barel, Meital Nissim, Osnat Skoblinski, Yaara Shehori, Yaakov Beaton, Naama Gershi, Mati Shmelof, Roy Arad, Dorit Weissman, Anat Zecharya, Michal Dar, Michal Gindin, Natalie Baruch, Maayan Szternfeld, Boaz Yaniv, Shlomit Lir, and Zipi Lali Michaeli.
 
The musicians Dan Toren, Yuval Ben-Ami, and singer Reuven The “Angel”.
 
            The event is the result of the cooperation of a number of magazines: Hakivun Mizrach, Maayan, Daka, and Etgar - A Cultural Political Magazine, and a number of movements: Achoti: For Women in Israel, Mekaz Tmura, the production company Hafakot Mizrach (Yamin Masika and Yirmi Kadoshi), and the also The Mizrachi Democratic Rainbow – New Discourse.
 
            A bus will leave at 14:25 from Southern Tel Aviv, Beit Achoti at 70 Matalon St. The event is organized by Mati Shmoelof (poet, past editor of Hakivun Mizrach), Roy Arad (poet and editor of Maayan), and Shula Keshet (Achoti). Our last poetry action, The Waitresses’ Poetry at Coffee to Go, was a great success that ended with the waitresses’ victory the next day. Another project was the publication of Aduma (Hebrew for “red”)– A Collection of Class-Related Poetry, 3000 copies of which were already sold. The event will be in Hebrew and Russian, hosted by Yana Knopova and Yuval Ben-Ami. Artisan works by the Ethiopian women from Achoti’s Center of Embroidery at Kiryat Gat will be sold during the event.
 
            The story of Polgat Kiryat Gat is a classic story of a textile plant bought by a businessman who emptied the factory’s cash flowing to justify the purchase, and then shut it down. At the end of the day, some 300 workers, most of whom of older age, were left jobless. Polgat Poetry is an almost sole tribute to the factory’s workers, who were once the pride of Israeli industry, and an attempt to alert before similar situations take place.
 
In Conclusion
 
Polgat Poetry took place with much success. The poetry demonstration attracted an audience of around one hundred people, among them some of the fired workers from the factory, activists from Achoti movement, and poets; energetic men and women who came from Kiryat Gat, the surrounding towns, and across the country, to support the resistance against the shutting down of factories in the periphery, and to show solidarity with the fired workers. A crowded bus left Achoti’s center in Tel Aviv to Kiryat Gat, and the demonstration lasted for an hour and a half. The highlights were poetry readings and musical performances by Mizrachi singer Reuven the Angel and Dan Toren, both of whom came back for an encore. Reuven the Angel’s performance was accompanied by line dancing in the audience and belly dancing, notwithstanding the harsh sentiments due to the closing of the factory.
 
            Other highlights were Yuval Ben-Ami and Yana Knopova’s hosting in Russian and Hebrew; the story of Victor Azulay, a former worker in the factory, who recounted the harsh feelings when the factory’s CEO offered to place a bench for the workers to sit and cry on in the factory. Other workers who planned to read decided at the last moment that they would not be able to handle a public appearance. The poets Naama Gershi and Anat Zecharya recounted their experiences of family members being fired. Another highlight was the performance of Reuven the “Angel”, a singer from Kiryat Gat, who came without a strap for his guitar and played a song about life in Kiryat Gat while standing under a bush, on an improvised table.
 
            Polgat Poetry was organized by Cultural Guerilla movement, along with Achoti – For Women in Israel, and a number of poetry magazines: “Maayan”, “Hakivun Mizrach”, “Daka”, “Ho!”, and “Etgar”, and the organizations “Hafakot Hamizrach” (Yamin Masika and Yirmi Kadoshi), “Tmura”, and The Mizrachi Democratic Rainbow.
 
Among the organizers: Mati Shemoelof (poet, past editor of Hakivun Mizrach), Sheli Dvir, Esq., Roy Arad (poet and editor of Maayan), and Shula Keshet (CEO, Achoti). The singer Dan Toren, who has amazing wiring abilities, was of much help saving the sound during the event, as well as the singer Reuven the Angel, who saved a broken electrical chord by gluing it.
 
            Among the poets who partook in the event: Yudit Shachar, Nimrod Kamer, Yehezkel Nafshi, Navit Barel, Meital Nissim, Yaakov Bitton, Naama Gershi, Mati Shemoelof, Roy Arad, Anat Zecharya, Maayan Szternfeld, Shlomit Lir, and Roni Hirsch. The musicians who performed: Dan Toren, Reuven the “Angel”, and Yuval Ben-Ami.
 
            The event was documented for a documentary film concerning the shutting down of factories to be produced by Hafakot Hamizrach. The audience included many viewers. The factory was not willing to cooperate with the event, not even by connecting to its electricity, and so the organizers had to use a generator.
 
            The event, which was voluntarily produced in a week and a half, using a low budget, brought much media coverage, both local and national, and brought up the story of the shutting down of factories, which is not a decision made in heaven, but something that can be prevented, something that some people have a profit to gain from it.
 
            This is the second Cultural Guerilla event, and will not be the last, and all poets and groups who are interested in helping us are welcome. More than anything, we would be glad if other artists, whether poets or in any other field, will try to hold parallel events and donate their talent to actions resisting this invisible hand, which sees all.