“I cannot applaud tyranny, I can never love a tyrant.” Turkish poet Mehmet Akif Ersoy, quoted by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on stage before a crowd of 10,000 on 6th June, 2013.
According to Alev Yaman and Erda Halisdemir, reporting for English PEN, Erdogan also invoked Ersoy’s epic Safahat and 13th century Anatolian Sufi humanist poet Yunus Emre. Poetry, then, is at the heart of the struggle in Turkey, and — as with public space — no government, politician or party should be able to claim control over the power of poetry to inspire, persuade and empathise. We as poets internationally propose a poetic #ResistTurkey / #OccupyGezi to celebrate both the spaces and discourses of freedom of expression, which Erdoğan’s government has repressed.
We offer our words in solidarity, as translations and inspirations drawn from the creative protests in words and actions taking place across Turkey, and we invite you to join us in doing the same.
Please email us new or previously published poems that resonate with these issues, or alert us to links to any new poems being published online. Our email address is: email@example.com. Please submit no more than three poems and include a short bio and an image that either reflects your thoughts on resistance or an author photo. We welcome poems in all languages, including sign languages and visual poetry. If you do have an English translation handy by a reputable translator then do send it along. Turkish-English and English-Turkish translators are also invited to get in touch!
“Come here, let’s make peace, let’s not be strangers to one another.” Yunus Emre
Yours In Solidarity,
Nia Davies, Sascha Akhtar, Sophie Mayer