Tag Archives: Istanbul

Poem 55 in Solidarity: Here and There

by Karin Karakaşlı

Here and There

I’m taking the night ferry
a fat firefly
the coast a diamond necklace spread before me
sparkling here and there

In my dream
dressed in knives from head to toe
as I spun round
I cut whoever came near me
Each side was blood on steel
steel on blood
spurting here and there

I tried out all the words and then fell silent
I needed a new curse
words never spoken in vain
as old as the Stone Age
a cry
raging from here and there

This poem was translated by the Poetry Translation Centre translation workshop with a literal translation by Canan Marasligil. You can read the original,  the literal translation and more poems from this workshop on the Poetry Translation Centre’s website.

Karin Karakaşlı

Karin Karakaşlı

Karin Karakaşlı was born in Istanbul in 1972. She graduated in Translation and Interpreting Studies. From 1996 to 2006 she worked at the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos as editor, head of the editorial department and columnist on both Turkish and Armenian pages. She has completed an M.A. in Comparative Literature, works as a translation instructor at the university and as a teacher of Armenian language and literature in an Armenian High School. She is currently a columnist at Agos and Radikal newspapers, and continues to write fiction and poetry.

Her books include a children’s novel called Ay Denizle Buluşunca (When the Moon Meets the Sea), short story collections Başka Dillerin Şarkısı (Song of Other Languages), and Can Kırıkları (Splinters of the Heart), works of poetry,Her Kimsen SANA (Whoever you are this is FOR YOU), a novel is Müsait Bir Yerde İnebilir Miyim? (Can I Get Out Somewhere You Don’t Mind?).

She is the co-writer of the research book Türkiye’de Ermeniler: Cemaat, Birey, Yurttaş (Armenians in Turkey: Community, Individual, Citizen).

Canan Marasligil

Canan Marasligil

Canan Marasligil is a freelance writer, literary translator, editor and screenwriter based in Amsterdam. Her focus is on contemporary Turkish literature and comics from countries like Turkey, Algeria and the UK. Canan was a translator in residence at the Free Word Centre in London in 2013 where she developed activities around translation, literature and freedom of expression. She is also co-curator of Istanbulles, the International Comics Festival of Istanbul, Web editor for the European Cultural Foundation’s Narratives for Europe project and author at Publie.Net (France). Detailed projects can be found on her website.


Poem 47 In Solidarity: On Istiklal

by David Shook

On Istiklal

Mustache flecked with chicken pudding,
the ice cream trickster juggles scoops,
flips cones for tips,
never smiles.

Perched behind his analog scale,
the salesman invites my mass aboard,
a lira for my passage. Generous,
he rounds up, gifts me weight I have not earned.

The needle’s thin tongue trembles
when I lift my boot in explanation.
Today he’s weighed at least 400 kilos for
the chestnuts he’ll eat walking home.

The weight that’s crossed this city means I’m nothing.
Luxor’s obelisk re-righted with manpower and a plan,
a trough of lokum heavy like a coffin
but filled with sweeter meat.

For all I weigh, I weigh almost nothing,
I increase the earth’s gravitational pull
by an insignificant degree,
this street will not remember me.

Still: I will not be rounded up nor rounded down.

          Look! / Hey! / Dumb-cluck! / Chuck your twanging noise-box.
—Nâzim Hikmet

David Shook

David Shook

David Shook grew up in Mexico City before studying endangered languages in Oklahoma and poetry at Oxford. His debut collection of poems, Our Obsidian Tongues, was published by Eyewear Publishing in 2013. He has translated Roberto Bolaño’s Infrarealist manifesto, indigenous Mexican poetry from the Isthmus Zapotec, and oral poetry by the Burundian Batwa. He served as Translator in Residence at Britain’s Poetry Parnassus at The Southbank, in 2012. There he premiered his covertly shot documentary about Equatorial Guinean poet Marcelo Ensema Nsang. Shook lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the poet and pastor Syd Shook, where he edits Molossus and Phoneme Media. http://davidshook.net

Poem 40 In Solidarity: A Story (in English,Turkish,German,Italian,French)

Jeffrey Kahrs

A Story

I held my tongue till I couldn’t taste anything.
It wasn’t always like this.
I hoped for the rise of tolerant reason
from behind the shadows of guns.
But the government began erasing
any word that didn’t come from
their dictionary. I waited and fed
as they gave us token morsels.
Beside, who else was there to believe in?
Then their billy clubs bashed in heads
and pepper gas billowed like great sails.
It was brutal. But at least the wind began
in tears and my tongue regained its feeling.
I could taste the chanting voices.
Who expects miracles? I don’t,
but this was my chance to let go
of my tongue. I have done this.

Bir Oyku

Hic bir seyin tadini alamayana kadar dilimi tuttum
hep boyle degildi
hosgorulu bir anlayis yukselir diye umdum
silahlarin golgesinin arkasindan
sonra silmeye basladilar
kendi sozluklerinden gelmeyen
her sozu. bekledim ve yuttum
bize verdikleri kirintilari
baska ne vardi ki inanacak?
sonra joplari kafalarda patladi
biber gazlari dev yelkenler gibi kabardi
acimasizdi. ama en azindan ruzgar basladi
gozyaslarinda ve yeniden hissettim dilimi
tadabiliyordum kalabaliktan yukselen sesleri
kim mucize bekler ? ben degil.
bu benim dilimi cozme sansimdi. iste ben bunu yaptim.

Eine Geschichte

Ich hielt den Mund bis meine Zunge nichts mehr
schmeckte. Es war nicht immer so.
Ich dachte, aus dem Schatten der Kanonen
könnten Vernunft und Toleranz neu erstehen.
Dann begann die Regierung jedes Wort
auszuradieren, das in ihrem Lexikon
nicht vorkam. Ich war geduldig, verteilte Happen
von Freiheit die sie uns mit Nachdruck gaben.
War außer mir noch jemand so naiv?
Dann kamen sie mit Schlagstöcken, prügelten
auf Köpfe, der Qualm von Tränengas war überall.
Brutal. Doch schließlich begann die Zukunft
mit den Tränen, ich spürte meine Zunge wieder,
schmeckte den Gesang der Stimmen.
Erwartet jemand noch ein Wunder? Ich nicht,
aber ich habe die Gelegenheit, meiner Zunge
freien Lauf zu lassen. Ich habe es getan.

Tr: Hans Thill

Una storia

Ho trattenuto la mia lingua fino a non sentire piú i sapori.
Non é sempre stato cosí.
Ho sperato che la ragione tollerante fuoriuscisse
da dietro le ombre delle pistole.
Poi il governo ha cominciato a cancellare ogni parola
che non fosse nel suo vocabolario. Ho aspettato e ingoiato
mentre ci davano simbolici bocconi di libertá.
Chi altro ci crederá?
Poi i loro manganelli hanno spaccato teste
e il fumo del gas urticante al pepe sembrava dappertutto.
É stato brutale. Ma almeno il futuro é cominciato
in lacrime e la mia lingua ha riacquistato sensibilitá.
Potevo assaporare le voci e gli slogan.
Chi si aspetta il miracolo? Io no.
Ma questa é un’occasione per liberare la mia lingua e l’ho fatto.

Tr: Anna Valerio

J’ai tenu ma langue, jusqu’à ne plus pouvoir goûter quoi que ce soit.
Ce n’était pas toujours comme ça.
J’avais l’espoir que la tolérance raisonnée puisse grandir
derrière l’ombre des fusils.
Mais le gouvernement a commencé à effacer
tous les mots qui ne venaient pas
de son dictionnaire. J’ai attendu, et je me suis nourri
des miettes de liberté qu’ils nous donnaient.
Et d’ailleurs, en qui d’autre aurais-je pu croire ?
Et puis leurs matraques ont cognés nos têtes
et la fumée des gaz lacrymogènes semblait flotter partout.
C’était brutal. Mais au moins, l’avenir est né
dans les larmes et ma langue a retrouvé son sens du goût.
Je pouvais goûter les voix qui chantaient.
Qui s’attend à des miracles ? Pas moi,
mais c’est ma chance de donner sa liberté
à ma langue. Et ceci, je l’ai fait.

Tr: Dominique Blachon

Jefrrey Kahrs

Jefrrey Kahrs

Jeff Kahrs was born in the Hague, Netherlands, and was raised in California. He received a B.A. in Dramatic Literature from U.C. Santa Cruz and an M.A. from Boston University, where he studied with Derek Walcott and Leslie Epstein. He worked for many years as a commercial fisherman in Alaska.

From 1993 to 2011 he lived in Istanbul, where he worked primarily as a teacher. While living there he co-edited an issue of the Atlanta Review on poetry in Turkey, was published in Subtropics, mediterranean.nu. He also co-edited, with Başak Ergil, a section of the Turkish magazine Çevirmenin Nötu on English-language poets in Istanbul.

He recently finished writing a history of the Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union of the Pacific to celebrate their 100th anniversary, and the translations he did with Hatice Ören of Gülten Akın were published this year at the 5th Annual Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival in Cary, North Carolina.

After living and working in Istanbul for almost 20 years, he is currently residing in Seattle,U.S.A.

Poem 39 in Solidarity: from “Atlas”

by Suzanne Gardinier

from “Atlas” 


These streets / Whose / No meetings permitted / Streets with drifts of blossom but no fruit

Streets clamoring with heretic voices / Untamed and tamed and untamed again

A house to evict you A market to confiscate / A map to make you lose your way

Will you punish me for history she says / What will you undertake he says


And these words / Used to make the bindings / And to cut them Made merchandise Cheap as piss

As breath / Every crevice with its message not yet / translated Caught in the city’s throat

A writ of eviction Of emancipation / This poem with an illegible address

Paper kiss Paper yoke Recipes / Leaflets on the backs of bills of sale


If you can say it so I can hear you / If I can listen If we can find

If you recognize him If you keep her near you / If the water comes slowly enough

If there’s time

If / Two letters to stand for what’s possible / Written on the jacket of the split winter bud

In the fabric of language Common as dirt / If / May / Come the morning / Might have been / Might be


The terms of keeping a heart strong for fighting / To laugh in the smoke by the place of exchange

All right Later she says Instead of I’m done now / And he says See you girlfriend instead of goodbye

How they break the compact that keeps them strangers / How she learns her own ears from the sound of his voice

Her letters among others they find when they take him / Written on his tongue and the palms of his hands


For that we kept beside each other /  In a place they said wasn’t ready yet

For that I knew you Your verve and persistence / Your laugh in the pit Your dance in the yoke

As you made your living The traces lasting / generations in all directions

As you locked arms and turned in the wind of destruction / Toward what you lived for / A glimpse of a free place

For the flesh In its clenched or loosened beauty / In its integrity In its needs

For the streets From a place for buying and selling / To a place to unlearn to mistake your face

And for words Baby I’ma help tear this shit / up / End to swindled end / Tear it down

To the free place to come and all flesh / shall see it together / Come the day

Poverty- the real root of terrorism

Poverty- the real root of terrorism

Suzanne Gardinier  is a writer who has been trying to learn the meaning of the word ‘solidarity’ since she was sixteen.  She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives between Manhattan and Havana.


Poem 32 In Solidarity: The Nightwatch

Simon Haworth

The Nightwatch
(for Orhan Pamuk)

Ships are dozing on the Bosphorus,
seduced by an unbroken tide-line.
A Dervish shivers on the mezzanine
of a crumbling apartment block and listens
sleeplessly to public transport, car stereos,
the cumulative noise of reincarnation.
Clutching as the coarse stage falls away
and sends me sprawling in my studio,
I dream of museums and family portraits.
A pendant of Westernised moonlight
strays through clouded panes and into
a cypress lined cemetery,
delicately making for oblivion.
Some result for the suicidal ex-girlfriend,
her eyes reflected snowstorms and dried up fountains,
my Great Grandfather who lost
an eye in Gallipoli. His freshly flagrant socket
mustered only the relic of an all-night battle.
I am an expert on dead-end myth, frostbite,
enforced barbarity and dressing wounds with bitumen.
My erratic itinerary endorses
acts of vandalism, taking into account
a bread knife for hacking at the ensign.
A long time since the last paradox scattered stones
and stars. I have almost reached the point of speech.
Retired heads of state reproach
the appropriated voice that hates them anyway.
The metropolis stares over cupolas,
switching inflection on a Siberian wind.
Patiently I have proved my love with words,
roved avenues, while an old woman
talked to herself in the infinite space
of a sex cinema, about miniaturists,
mannequins, barbers and Cadillacs.
She has been forgotten like a childhood illness,
a birth mark or phone call,
and anchored beyond recognition.
You could almost call it self-reflection,
this banging of heads, this past in which the hüzün-
filled God does or does not exist.

Istanbul drizzle - Simon Haworth

Istanbul drizzle – Simon Haworth

Simon Haworth is a poet who has studied for a PhD in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester where he also teaches English literature. The Nightwatch previously appeared in The Wolf Magazine No. 17, Spring 2008.

Poem 30 In Solidarity: Var mısın

Mehmet Erte

Var mısın

Başlıyoruz. Güzel. Sen orda, ben burda.. gene de birlikte
Ne kör olurum artık ne ebe, ne arkandayım ne önünde
Yokum elini uzattığın yerde, fakat elim sende
Gel beraber çıkalım sahneye, var mısın
Başını uzatan sobeleniyor, yaklaşan vuruluyor
Korktun mu, kaçacak mısın
Pilavdan dönenin kaşığı kırılsın
Öyle bir gözyaşı dök ki kandırsın beni yalanına
Naz makamında yerin var sanayım
Yok hayır kavgaya katılacaksan
İsrafil sur’unu üflese bile sen durmayacaksın
Durmayacaksın, çünkü dünya durmadan önce uzun süre sallanacak
Ve sonra tırrak diye bitecek her şey, tak
İlk tıkırtıda kalemi elinden bırak
Ayakta daha iyi sallanırsın, kalk
Daha ne kadar böyle kaykılacaksın
Bak, mızrağı çuvala sığdırmışlar
Üzüm yemeye değil bağcıyı görmeye gelmişler
İşçisi sizden, çavuşu bizden diyorlar
Kırmızı diyorlar, sor bakalım onlara, kan gibi mi kırmızı
Kan gibi değilse siktir et gitsinler
Kara diyorlar, sor bakalım onlara, zindan gibi kara mı
Zindan gibi değilse siktir et gitsinler

Anlaşılmayacak diye üzülme nasıl aşkla yaşadığımız
Meydanlarda aşkla savaşmazsak yaşamış sayılmayacağız

Mehmet Erte
; 1978’de doğdu. Üniversitede fizik öğrenimi gördü. Editörlük, düzeltmenlik yapıyor. Kitapları // Roman: Sahte, YKY, 2012. Öykü: Bakışın Kirlettiği Ayna, YKY, 2008. Şiir: Alçalma, YKY, 2010; Suyu Bulandıran Şey, Varlık Yayınları, 2003.

Mehmet Erte (born 1978- ) is a contemporary Turkish poet and writer. He studied Physics at Sakarya University. His first poem, “Yıldırımları Beklemek”, published in Varlık magazine in 1999. Erte’s poems, short stories, essays and interviews were published in various magazines such as VarlıkKitap-lıkYasakmeyve, Özgür Edebiyat, Sonra EdebiyatHevesKül ÖyküMerdiven ŞiirEHayvanMilliyet Sanat. Erte received 2003 Yaşar Nabi Nayır Poetry Award with his work Suyu Bulandıran Şey, in the same year this work was published as a book. His first short storybook, Bakışın Kirlettiği Ayna (May 2008);  his second poetry book, Alçalma (February 2010); his first novel Sahte(June 2012) were published by YKY. He worked as an editor at Yasakmeyve magazine for two years. He is currently working as an editor at Varlık Publishing House. http://mehmeterte.wordpress.com

Poem 22 In Solidarity: Çatlak

By Gonca Özmen


Varsın gecede birer sis çanı olalım
Varsın eksik desinler bize, huysuz desinler
Varsın kuyruğunuz var desinler
Varsın arayalım o kuyruğu çocukken telaşla
Varsın ardımızda bıraktığımız ışıltılı çizgiyi görmesin onlar
Varsın ağzımda sakladığımı seni bilmesinler
Varsın uluorta sevemiyor olayım ayaklarını
Varsın bizden bilsinler ömrün çatlağını
Varsın kanımız usul değsin onların yataklarına
Varsın uzun çayırlar dileyelim ikimizden
Varsın uzun çayırlar olmadı diyelim bir gün
Varsın karalığım bulaşsın karalığına
Varsın iki kadın patlatsın gövdesini aynı anda
Varsın iki ağaç devrilelim apansız yol ortasına
Varsın iki otobüs çarpışalım onların aşklarında
Varsın sendeki har bendeki dağı dövsün

Gonca Özmen

Gonca Özmen

1982 yılında Burdur’un Tefenni ilçesinde doğdu. İstanbul Üniversitesi İngiliz Dili ve Edebiyatı Bölümü’nden mezun oldu (2004) ve yüksek lisansını tamamladı. (2008) Halen aynı bölümde doktora öğrencisidir.

1997 Yaşar Nabi Nayır Gençlik Ödülleri’nde “dikkate değer” bulundu. 1999 Ali Rıza Ertan ve 2000 Orhon Murat Arıburnu Şiir Ödülleri’nde birincilik aldı. 2003’te İstanbul Üniversitesi İngiliz Dili ve Edebiyatı Anabilim Dalı Berna Moran Şiir Yarışması’nda birincilik ödülünü, 2005 Homeros İnceleme Ödülü’nde “Edip Cansever’in ‘Kaybola’ Şiiri Üzerine”adlı incelemesiyle üçüncülük ödülünü kazandı.

Kuytumda adlı ilk şiir kitabı 2000 yılında Hera Yayınları’ndan çıktı. İkinci şiir kitabı Belki Sessiz ise Şubat 2008’de Yapı Kredi Yayıncılık tarafından yayımlandı. Kitaplarının yeni basımları Kırmızı Kedi Yayınevi’nce yapılmaktadır.

Şiirleri İngilizce, Almanca, Fransızca, İspanyolca, Slovence, Romence, Farsça, Yunanca ve İbranice’ye çevrildi. Heidelberg, Hamburg, Berlin, Paris, Lodeve, Slovenya, Karadağ ve İsrail’de düzenlenen uluslararası şiir festivallerine katıldı.

Seçme şiirleri, The Sea Within (İçerdeki Deniz) adıyla Şubat 2011’de İngiltere’de Shearsman Yayınevi tarafından George Messo çevirisiyle yayımlandı.

Çağdaş İrlanda Şiiri Seçkisi’ni ve İlhan Berk’in ölümünden sonra kalan şiirlerinden oluşan Çiğnenmiş Gül’ü yayına hazırladı. Ç.N. (Çevirmenin Notu) isimli çeviri edebiyatı dergisinin söyleşi editörlüğünü yapmaktadır.


Gonca Özmen graduated from the English Language and Literature Department of Istanbul University in 2004, holds an M.A. and is now studying for a PhD. Her first poetry book Kuytumda (In My Nook) was published in 2000 when she was eighteen years old. She was awarded a Yaşar Nabi Nayır Youth Prize, the Ali Rıza Ertan Poetry Prize, the Orhan Murat Arıburnu Poetry Prize and the Berna Moran Poetry Prize. She is one of the editors of the literary translation magazine Ç.N. (Çevirmenin Notu). Her poems have been translated into Spanish, French, English, German, Slovenian and Persian. Her second book Belki Sessiz (Maybe Quiet) came out in 2008 and The Sea Within – Selected Poems, translated into English by George Messo, was published by Shearsman in 2011. She lives in İstanbul.