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Carrying a Torch for Hope

Where does a grueling run become a three-day party? Lebanon, of course, where this year’s Beirut marathon featured debke, salsa, hip hop, and tango, along with a remarkable performance of public art.

Runners pushing through the race’s final meters were met not with corporate logos and commercial banners but with hand-made signs; over the gathering area, a glowing mural bore homage to Lebanon and the race’s theme, “Run for a cause”.

This celebration was orchestrated by “I Leaf Art“, an arts movement dedicated to brightening the walls of underprivileged and decrepit areas with murals, graffiti and illustrations, in collaboration with the Beirut Marathon Association. Volunteer artists helped attendees—adults and children—to create their own posters championing individual runners and causes, while graffiti artist Zed, aka Eli Zaarour, painted the vivid 5.8 x 2.8m mural as a live performance.

“We need to concentrate on the lively, colorful aspects that illuminate different causes, away from materialism,” says I Leaf Art co-founder Solange Al-Heybe, “and Lebanon needs to seize more hope through their supporters.”

Fore more info – I Leaf Art Facebook page

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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