Tag Archives: Poetry

Poem 59 in Solidarity: Mappa tat-Turkija / Map of Turkey

by Antoine Cassar



Map of Turkey

Tongue of rugged silk, over
or under which harmonic vowels glide.
Arm and fist, clenched too tightly
for the Ottoman ring, now resting opposite,
hanging off the Balkan diamond.
Magic carpet, swirling amid the fig trees,
floating between the fairy chimneys,
rising above the tear gas
from city to city.
Continental drawbridge
over which Geōrgios and Nâzım
trade places and return.

Out of the fertile crescent, the Anatolian
mare trudges over Upper
Kurdistan, the Armenian
Highland, leaps over
the womb of the Euphrates, the source
of the Tigris, gallops
along the cattle-starred mountain chain, juts
her head out into the sea at sunset,
invites the waves
to caress the curve of her chin
and fizzle with the foam at her mouth.

Beware! From across the Dardanelles,
the butt, stock and barrel of a rifle
may soon plug one of her nostrils
spraying pepper into her pharnyx.

Beware! Burrowing through the acidic sands
and Volgoneft oil, the mole climbing
out of the Sea of Marmara
may soon poke her in the eye.

A bell rings in her throat,
at the Gulf of İskenderun
her neck itches under the halter.
Beware! A cough, however slight,
may shudder the land enough
to knock over the nargiles
in the old madrasa courtyards,
to cause the yoga students
and standing readers
to lose their balance,
to topple the makeshift libraries
at Gezi Park.

On the Bosphorus shore, amid the mist,
the Anatolian mare waits with hüzün.
Watches the foam-white gulls
follow the wake of the pontoon.
Watches the minarets pierce the clouds,
pining toward the sun in descent.
Watches the whirling dervishes
open up to the sky like orchids,
ready to be picked
by the scythe of the moon.

Beware! On the Bosphorus shore,
amid the mist, the Anatolian mare,
like a Trojan unicorn,
waits to sneak into the 21st-
century Ottoman palace
to cough her heart out,
shattering the boutique windows,
shattering the neon adverts,
shattering the global logos,
returning the park
and all its memories
to the people of İstanbul.

Mappa tat-Turkija

Ilsien tal-ħarir imħatteb, li fuqu
jew taħtu jiżolqu
b’armonija l-vokali.
Driegħ u ponn, issikkat wisq
għaċ-ċurkett Ottoman, mitluq biswitu,
imdendel mid-djamant Balkaniku.
Tapit imsaħħar, idur mas-siġar tat-tin,
iħuf bejn iċ-ċmieni fatati,
itir ‘il fuq mill-gass tad-dmugħ
minn belt għal belt.
Pont kontinentali mniżżel
li minnu Geōrgios u Nâzım
iparttu posthom u jirritornaw.

Minn ġol-minġel għammiel, id-debba
Anatoljana tgħaddi tħakwek
mill-Kurdistan ta’ Fuq, mill-Għoljiet
Armenji, taqbeż
ġuf l-Ewfrati, għajn
it-Tigris, tiġri
tul il-katina tal-muntanji
mkewkba bil-baqar, tixref rasha
għal fuq il-baħar ma’ nżul ix-xemx,
tistieden lill-mewġ
iħarħar mal-ħnejja ta’ geddumha
u jitfexfex mar-ragħwa ta’ ma’ fommha.

Ar’hemm! Mix-xaqliba l-oħra tad-Dardanelli,
iċ-ċipp, il-maqbad, u l-kanna ta’ xkubetta
għandhom mnejn isoddulha l-minfes
u jroxxulha l-bżar sal-qiegħ ta’ ħalqha.

Ar’hemm! Għaddejja tħaffer fl-irmiel aċidużi
u ż-żejt tal-Volgoneft, it-talpa tielgħa
minn ġol-Baħar ta’ Marmara
għandha mnejn tniggiżha f’għajnha.

Qanpiena ddoqq fi griżmejha,
fil-Kalanka ta’ İskenderun
taħt il-kappestru għonqha jħokk.
Ar’hemm! Sogħla, imqar ħafifa,
għandha mnejn theżżeż l-art biżżejjed
biex twaqqa’ n-nargiles
fil-btieħi tal-madrasas antiki,
biex ittellef il-bilanċ
tal-istudenti tal-yoga
u l-qarrejja weqfin,
biex iġġarraf il-libreriji spontanji
fil-Park ta’ Gezi.

Ma’ xatt il-Bosfru, ġoċ-ċpar,
id-debba Anatoljana
tinstenna bil-hüzün.
Tgħasses il-gawwi abjad ragħwa
jsegwi r-rima taċ-ċattra.
Tgħasses il-minaretti jinfdu s-sħab,
jixxennqu għax-xemx fi nżulha.
Tgħasses id-driewex iduru durella
jiftħu lejn is-sema donnhom orkidej,
lesti ħa jinqatgħu
minn minġel il-qamar.

Ar’hemm! Ma’ xatt il-Bosfru,
ġoċ-ċpar, id-debba Anatoljana,
bħal unikornu ta’ Trojja,
tistenna ħa tinfilza fil-palazz
Ottoman tas-seklu 21
biex tisgħol kemm tiflaħ qalbha,
tkisser il-vetrini tal-boutiques,
tkisser ir-riklami tan-neon,
tkisser il-logos globali,
trodd lura l-park
bit-tifkiriet kollha tiegħu
lin-nies ta’ İstanbul.

Antoine Cassar’s writes on his blog: “in admiration of the çapullers protesting the planned construction of an Ottoman-style shopping centre at Gezi Park, countering the tear gas and pepper spray with street theatre, yoga classes, and makeshift libraries, I translated Nâzım Hikmet’s Invitation into Maltese. The first stanza of Hikmet’s poem compares the Anatolian peninsula to the head of a mare galloping out of Asia. The poetic Map of Turkey above  is inspired by this cartographic image, and by the creative resistance of the çapullers of Gezi. (Read more about the Atlas project here.)  I wrote it simultaneously in Maltese and English, allowing the two languages to guide each other freely. They should be considered as equal originals. It’s an interesting dynamic; in the Maltese, the images seem to come across more vividly, and more physically, also with the help of alliteration, whereas the English helps me to simplify the rhythm and poetic logic.”

Antoine Cassar

Antoine Cassar

Antoine Cassar is a Maltese poet, translator, editor, and cultural organiser, and a creative activist for migrants’ rights and universal freedom of movement. Born in London to Maltese parents in 1978, Cassar grew up between England, Malta and Spain, and worked and studied in Italy, France and Luxembourg. One of Cassar’s most important poetic works to date, Passaport (2009), printed in the form of an anti-passport for all peoples and all landscapes, has been published and presented in eight languages, in a number of cities in Europe, Asia and North America, with profits donated to local associations providing assistance to refugees and asylum seekers in nine countries. Since March 2013, Antoine Cassar is the editor of Le monde n’est pas rond.

Poem 54 In Solidarity: Taksim

Helmuth A. Niederle


Wenn so eine Zeit kommt
in der das Aussprechen des freien Wortes
gefährlich wird
Wenn die Zeit gekommen ist
für Wasserwerfer, Tränengas und Schlagstöcke
Wenn so eine Zeit kommt
die Menschen von öffentlichen Plätzen vertreibt
Wenn die Zeit gekommen ist
in der Polizisten ordentlich
Jagd auf Demonstranten machen

wird es für die Machthaber gefährlich:
Es ist die Zeit gekommen
in der das Träumen verboten ist
und die Menschen erst recht zu träumen wagen!

Helmuth A. Niederle was born in Vienna and is a fiction writer, editor and poet. He contributed to “Catechism. Poems for Pussy Riot”. His last publication was “Trakt geräumt. verba in angustiis. Lyrik”. Helmuth A. Niederle lives in Vienna.

Poem 51 In Solidarity: Zones of Frequency

by Theodoros Chiotis

Zones of Frequency


“Let it be told
to the future world”:

We will still be able to breathe
kkkkkkwhen the air turns thicker.

We are learning from Doctor Moreau
kkkkkkthe codes needed to assemble new faces.


Summer soldiers
twilight zealots
homes turned into barracks.

All these are echoes of previous years:

“We did not make proper use of
last winter,
kkkkkkkkkkkkneither could we,
while we were in a dependent state”


Play Grand Theft Auto.
Lay on the ground.
Don’t cause trouble.

An invasion, described in a once familiar language:

“If you are not contributing to (the) movement
then why are you here?”


Give (your) body
to what does not resemble you.

You might think otherwise but
Psycho was never about hygiene.



Sit still.
Displace the mirth.
Break the meeting.
Occupy all four hemispheres.
Repeat something that did not exist until now.


A map for a new respiratory system.
Nitrous oxide replaced by tear gas.
Our head and face boundaries collapse.

kkkkkkkkkkkkNow: cut across the canvas.

Occupy Gezi – by Adbusters

Occupy Gezi – by Adbusters

Theodoros Chiotis has studied Classics and Modern Language at the universities of London and Oxford. His work has appeared in Adventures in Form (Penned in the Margins), Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot (English Pen),Otoliths, Fit to Work: Poets Against ATOS, Tears in the Fence, Bad Robot Poetry, Ποιητική, Εντευκτήριο, Παγιδευμένοι στο διαδίκτυο (Patakis), aglimpseof[φρμκ] and Poeticanet. His work has been featured at the Book Festival of Croatia (2012), in the Invisible Architecture installation (2013) and in the Mercy/Liverpool Biennial podcast.

Poem 50 In Solidarity: तीन कविताहरु (Three Poems)

Durgalal Shrestha

तीन कविताहरु

तारमा अड्किएको चङ्गा झैँ
बेरिइरहनेछ मेरो आवाज
यो वायूमण्डलमा,
भोलि यो बाटो आउनेहरुलाई
सुनाइरहनेछ यसले मेरो कथा ।

कत्ति छैन चालचुल
न चलेकै छ पातपतिङ्गर,
मौन– सबका सब मौन Û
हैन, यो निदाएको हैन,
बरु हो– पर्खिँदापर्खिँदै
पर्खाइको पराकाष्ठामा पुगेको ।
घाम डुब्नै आँट्यो
मेरो जाने बेला भयो,
सम्झना Û
हिँड, सँगै जाउँ
फेरि यता
आइरहन नपरोस् मलाई ।

Three poems

Like a kite caught in wire
My voice will be enduring in space,
It will keep passing on my story
To the passersby for all time to come!

Everything is unmoving
Not even the crackle of leaves,
Silence… everything is quiet,
No, this is not a state of slumber,
Rather, it’s reaching the climax of wait
On the process of waiting.

The sun is about to set down
It’s time for me to go
My memory!
Come, let’s walk together
So that
I wouldn’t pass this way again.

Durgalal Shrestha

Durgalal Shrestha

Durgalal Shrestha has been writing since the early ‘50s and is a living legend of Nepali literature.

He has crafted a realm of poetry and fought on behalf of voiceless people. Durgalal’s works have been translated into many languages. He writes fluently in both his mother tongue Newar and Nepali language.He is also known as a songwriter.

Poem 49 in Solidarity: Love in Every Language

By Serkan Engin

Love in Every Language

Love me in every language of the world
Let’s make love in Lazuri,
Let the waves of our tongue dance The Horon
At the northern Rockies of your body.

Love me in every language of the world
Let’s view one another in Kurdish.
Let the hawks’ East wings fly from our eyes
To the purple mountains of love.

Love me in every language of the world
Write my heart in Turkish.

Translated from Turkish to English by Serkan Engin with James Pickersgill


Original Turkish by Serkan Engin, and translations to Kurdish and Lazuri:

Her Dilde Aşk

Dünyanın bütün dillerinde sev beni
Lazca sevişelim
Horon tepsin dilimin dalgaları
Kuzey kayalıklarında gövdemin

Dünyanın bütün dillerinde sev beni
Kürtçe bakışalım
Doğu kanatlı şahinler uçsun
Aşkın mor dağlarına gözlerimizden

Dünyanın bütün dillerinde sev beni
Türkçe yaz kalbimi

Bi Her Zimanî Evîn

Bi hemû zimanên dinê hez bike ji min

Em bi Lazkî bi hev şa bibin
Bila pêlên zimanê min rabin horonê
Li bakur zinarên di bedenê min de

Bi hemû zimanên dinê hez bike ji min

Em bi Kurdî li hev binêrin
Bila teyrebazên baskeşerq bifirin
Ji çavên ber bi çiyayên mor ên evînî

Bi hemû zimanên dine hez bike ji min

Bi Tirkî binivsîne dile min

Translated to Kurdish by Mehmet Caymaz

Mteli Nenapete Oropa

Çainat’işi mteli nenapete mioropi ma
Lazuri bistvat
Xoroni cixoronas nena şk’imişi 3’ari şxaşxala
Şozişi kvalopinape xura şk’imi

Çainat’işi mteli nenapete mioropi ma
Kyurduli ok’ob3’edat
Yulvaşi msvalepe muşite atmacape putxas
Tolepe şk’unişen oropaşi uça isinapeşa

Çainat’işi mteli nenapte mioropi ma
Turkuli minç’ari guri şk’imi

Translated to Lazuri by Selma Koçiva

Serkan Engin

Serkan Engin

A Laz poet from Turkey, Serkan Engin was born in 1975 in Izmit/Turkey. He studied at the Navy Military Lycee but was dismissed from the Navy Military High School in 1995 because he was undisciplined. He then studied at technical high school in Kocaeli University, and is now a vigorous antimilitarist. His poems have been published in more than fifty literature journals in Turkey and he has also published a poem manifesto in a literature journal in 2004, Imagist Socialist Poetry. His poems have been published in English and Japanese journals.

Poem 45 In Solidarity: To Everyman

by Julian Tuwim, translated by Marek Kazmierski

To Everyman

Now once again each TV station
is pushing patriotic crap,
and “For the People!’, “For the Nation!”
is sold as truth to any sap.

Now every mighty corporation
is making killing selling arms
so we men of the lowest station
go rape and pillage our own farms.

Now Heads of State begin to pray
and through their lies the mob incite,
decree that “War’s the only way
to do what’s Good, to do what’s Right!”.

Brimstone and pride in their oration
but they demand our sacrifice,
and as we offer our ovation
they know we’ll have to pay their price!

Imams and rabbis, priests and nuns
sprinkle their blessing over guns
for God has told them that His will
is for your Country you should kill.

As gutter tabloids scream and rage,
their chests puffed out on every page,
mothers and sisters still rejoice,
bidding farewell to “Our brave boys!”

– Oh, my ill-educated Friend,
Brother from near or far-off land!
Just for a while your ear do lend
and cast some doubt on high command.

Know they are telling lies perverted,
setting their traps, spinning you lines,
that from some hell-hole oil has spurted,
covering maps with dollar signs.

That through their banks blood money flowing
keeps vamps and vipers in good health,
while you till death will keep on owing
as empires suck us of our wealth.

So drop your gun, turn up your voice
and howl with us this one refrain,
free of their matrix now rejoice,
“We’ll never bow our heads again!”

Julian Tuwim was a Polish poet born in 1894. He was the leader of the Skamander group of experimental poets, he was also a major figure in his nation’s literature. In his principal collection of poetry, Slowa we krwi [words bathed in blood] (1926), he wrote with fervor and violence of the emptiness of urban existence.
Marek Kazmierski

Marek Kazmierski

Marek Kazmierski escaped communist Poland and settled in the UK as a child political refugee. He decided to become a writer, then worked as a librarian, a stripper and a prison governor, among others, to have something to write about. Today, he is translating, publishing and running a series of insider art initiatives. Not Shut Up, OFF_PRESS and Intersection UK are his babies.

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.