Rhyming rally: Greek poets protest austerity

Greece Financial Crisis

Dancers perform in front of the Greek Parliament during a protest by Greek poets, in central Athens on Wednesday, March 21, 2012. The anti-austerity

It isn't often demonstrators quote from the works of Nobel laureates.
But in Athens on Wednesday, Greek poets joined anti-austerity protests holding outdoor recitals at cultural sites in the city as they made their way to parliament.
Several hundred people attended the rally, along with dancers on stilts and a Latin music percussion band, to mark World Poetry Day.
Teenagers handed out their own poems to the public _ as irritated drivers stuck in midday traffic looked on in amazement and striking hospital doctors in medical uniforms passed by in a separate protest.
The poets' march was in contrast to daily demonstrations held in Athens since the country was plunged into serious financial crisis two years ago, with protests that sometimes turn violent by flag-waving union members shouting familiar slogans.
On Wednesday, placards bore the faces and words of Greece's literary heroes, Nobel Prize winners George Seferis and Odysseas Elytis, and the renowned poet Constantine P. Cavafy.
"For me, this is the epitome of a protest, people making their point in a civilized way," said Manolis Polentas, a poet and radio show host.
"It's because the crisis affects everybody _ poets included," he said. "Poets are usually inspired by personal misery. But that's why they fight for a fair and more colorful world."
Greeks have seen their living standards plummet during repeated austerity measures demanded by rescue creditors that have slashed benefits, pensions and the minimum wage, and left one in five people unemployed.
Organizers of Wednesday's protest said their goal is encourage Greeks to maintain their optimism as the country suffers through a fifth year of recession.
"We thought there was a need for something different. ... This is a protest where the slogans are the words of our poets and in support of the values of culture," Yiorgos Chouliaras, a poet and the main event organizer said.
The protest is "aimed at spurring creativity, stimulation, and humor, self motivation and imagination _ to act in a different way so that we Greeks have a different self-image, and people abroad have a different image of us," he said.