Tag Archives: Turkish poem

Gülten Akin

Gülten Akin was born in 1933. She is Turkey’s most distinguished female poet and stands at the forefront of poets for whom poetry is synonymous with social responsibility. In a wide-ranging survey participated in by Turkish writers and publishers in 2008, she was selected as “the greatest living Turkish poet.” She studied Law at Ankara University and worked as a barrister in various parts of Anatolia. Her poems have been translated into English, German, Flemish, Danish, Italian, Bulgarian, Arabic, Polish, Spanish and Hebrew, and used in academic studies. Her major poetry collections include Rüzgâr Saati / Hour of the Wind, Kestim Kara Saçlarimi / I Cut My Black Black Hair, Sigda / In the Shallows, Kirmizi Karanfil / Red Carnation, Maras ‘in ve Ökkes ’in Destani /Epic of Maras and Ökkes, Agitlar ve Türküler / Elegies and Folk Songs, Ilahiler / Hymns, Sevda Kalicidir / Love Endures, Sonra Iste Yaslandim / It Was Then That I Aged, Sessiz Arka Bahçeler / Silent Back Yards,  and Uzak Bir Kiyida / On a Distant Shore. She won the Turkish Language Association Poetry Award in 1961 and 1971 and the Sedat Simavi Literature Award in 1992.

Saliha Paker (co-translator) is a literary translator and Professor of Translation Studies who retired in 2008 from Bo?aziçi University, but still teaches a course there in the PhD Program. She founded the Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature in 2006 under the sponsorship of the Turkish Ministry of Culture. Her translations include three novels by Latife Tekin, Berji Kristin Tales from the Garbage Hills (with Ruth Christie), Dear Shameless Death and Swords of Ice (with Mel Kenne), all published by Marion Boyars (1993, 2001, 2007), London/New York. She edited Ash Divan, Selected Poems of Enis Batur, brought out in 2006 by Talisman House, New Jersey, which will also be publishing What Have You Carried Over? Poems of 42 Days and Other Works of Gülten Akin, co-edited with Mel Kenne, in September 2013. 

Mel Kenne (co-translator) is a poet and translator who has lived in Istanbul since 1993. A founding member of the Cunda Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature, he has translated much Turkish poetry and prose into English. Saliha Paker and he edited What Have You Carried Over: Poems of 42 Days and Other Works by Gülten Akin, and translated many of the poems in the collection, which will be published by Talisman House Publishers in September 2013. He and Paker also co-translated the novels Dear Shameless Death (Sevgili Arsiz Ölüm) and Swords of Ice (Buzdan Kiliçlar), by Turkish author Latife Tekin, which were  published in 2000 and 2007 respectively by Marion Boyers Publishers. Six collections of his poetry have been published, most recently Take (Muse-Pie Press 2011), and a bilingual collection in English and Turkish, Galata’dan / The View from Galata (Yapi Kredi Publishers 2010), translated by Ipek Seyalioglu.



Oh, no one’s got the time
to stop’n give thought to fine things

With broad brush-strokes they move along
Sketching homes kids graves onto the world
Some are obviously lost when a rhyme starts up
With one look they shut it all out
And the rhyme enters the night, as fine things do

Some pus in your breasts, some fish, some tears
Sea sea sea you turn into a giant
Evenings your fog creeps up the river-mouths
Raids our hazel-nuts
What to do with their blackening buds
We beg our children: go hungry for a while
We beg the tycoons
Please, one less “Hotel,” one secret marriage less to sketch
Please one less bank, a plea
From us to you and from you to those abroad

We send our wives out to get a manicure, to say
—sir, if you please—
We send our children out to beg
We’re off on our way, our beds entrusted to God
Motorized gypsies of the summer

Oh, no one’s got the time
to stop’n give thought to fine things
To return to the stream where we first bathed, our fathers’ homes
Passion for the earth, for what it’s being here
We plug our ears: money money money
We pull out the plugs: fight fight squabble
Someone may inquire: quarrel but why
An ever-grinding axe for our neighbor, a fist for our wife
Why the quarrel—we have no idea.

Then in our small town, that prison
We place our eraser before our eyes
With a shove we widen our days
We make room to give thought to our wives
To think about the bloom of the violet passing without us

Even if no one’s got the time
To stop’n give thought to fine things
Even if the little schoolteachers
Multiply their holidays
And in the name of whatever we hold sacred
Weave blindfolds for our eyes
What’s stored up and sketched will in time
Break into blossom as spring flowers

From across the stream over yonder
Some will whistle, we’ll sound it back.


Güven Turan

Güven Turan was born in Gerze, Sinop, in 1943. He studied English and American Literature at Ankara University and holds an MA degree in American Literature. He worked as an instructor at the same university, wrote programs for the “Voice of Turkey,” which broadcasts for Turkish nationals living abroad, edited literary reviews, and, from 1976 to 1995, worked in advertising. His first poem was published in 1963, and since then he has published many poems, short stories, novels, art and literary critiques, and translations of English and American poets. To date he has produced nine books of poetry, three novels, three books of essays and criticism, and a book of short stories. A number of his poems and short stories have been translated into English and French. He has participated in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa; in the Cambridge seminars; and in the Voix de la Mediterranée, in Lodéve, France. He is now a consultant editor for Yapi Kredi Publications. 

Ruth Christie (translator) was born and educated in Scotland, taking a degree in English Language and Literature at the University of St Andrews. She taught English for two years in Turkey and later studied Turkish language and literature at London University. For many years she taught English literature to American undergraduates resident in London. With Saliha Paker she translated the Turkish novel Berji Kristin, Tales from the Garbage Hills, by Latife Tekin (Marion Boyars 1993) and in collaboration with Richard McKane a selection of the poems of Oktay Rifat (Rockingham Press 1993) and a major collection of Nâzim Hikmet’s poetry (Anvil Press 2002). In 2004 her translations from the Turkish of Bejan Matur’s In the Temple of a Patient God, was published by Arc Visible Poets. Recent translations, with Richard McKane, include Poems of Oktay Rifat (Anvil Press 2007) and The Shelter Stories, by Feyyaz Kayacan Fergar (Rockingham Press 2007). Her translation of Bejan Matur’s How Abraham Betrayed Me (Arc Visible Poets) was awarded the Poetry Book Society’s Recommendation for 2012. 


Haydar Ergülen

Haydar Ergülen was born in Eskisehir in 1956. He graduated from the Middle East Technical University (METU) Department of Sociology in the Faculty of Social Sciences. He has lectured on Publications, Advertisement and Turkish Poetry at Anadolu University and worked as a copy-writer and written columns for Radikal and Birgün newspapers. He currently writes a column for Varlik, the most renowned Turkish literary periodical. He was in the group that produced the literary magazines Üç Çiçek (1983) and Siir Ati (1986) in Istanbul. From 1979 onwards his works have been published in many literary periodicals such as Somut, Felsefe Dergisi, Türk Dili, Yusufçuk, Yarin, Gösteri, Yasakmeyve and Varlik. His first book of poems Karsiisini Bulamamis Sorular (Questions without Answers) was published in 1981. His other works include Sokak Prensesi (Princess of the Streets), published in 1990), Surat Siirleri (Poems on the Bridge to Heaven) in 1991, Eskiden Terzi (Former Tailor) in1995, Kabareden Emekli Bir Kizkardes (A Sister Retired from the Cabaret) in 1996, Kirk Siir ve Bir (Forty Poems and One) in 1997, Karton Valiz (Cardboard Suitcase) in 1999, Hafiz, in 1999, Ölüm Bir Skandal (Death is a Scandal) in 2000, Toplu Siirleri: Nar (Collected Poems, Vol. 1) in 2000, Toplu Siirleri: Hafiz ve Semender (Collected Poems Vol. 2) in 2002, Keder Gibi Ödünç (Borrowed Like Grief) in 2005, Yagmur Cemi (Rain Djem) in 2006, and Üzgün Kediler Gazeli (Ghazal of Sad Cats) in 2007), and Zarf (Envelope) in 2010. 

Arzu Eker Roditakis (co-translator) has a BA in Communication Studies from Istanbul University and an MA degree in Translation from Bogaziçi University Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies, where she also began her doctoral studies and gave courses on translation theory, practice and criticism. Her MA thesis, Publishing Translations in the Social Sciences since the 1980s: An Alternative View of Culture Planning in Turkey was published by Lambert Academic Publishing in 2010. She currently resides in Greece, where she is working at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki on her doctoral dissertation on the English translations of Orhan Pamuk’s fiction. Since 2006, she has been participating in the CWTTL, where she has collaborated in the translation of fiction and poetry into Greek and English. In collaboration with Saliha Paker, she produced a first-time English translation of a chapter from Cemil Meriç’s Bu Ülke, which was published in the Journal of Levantine Studies in 2011. 

Elizabeth Pallitto (co-translator) has lived in New York, Boston, and Istanbul, where she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Kadir Has University. She received a PhD in Comparative Literature from the Graduate Center of City University of New York and a Master’s in Creative Writing from New York University. Dr. Pallitto teaches creative writing, rhetoric, and literature at CUNY. She has published translations from the Italian of poetry by Campanella, Velardinello, Fioravanti, and the Iraqi exile Thea Laitef. In 2007, she published Sweet Fire: Tullia d’Aragona’s Poetry of Dialogue and Selected Prose, the first English version of d’Aragona’s 1547 Rime. Her articles appear in Hybrido: Arte y Literatura, Comitatus, and Renaissance Quarterly; translations in Philosophical Forum and Forum Italicum; and original poetry in Litspeak, Fox Chase Review, and The North American Review. Her poetry collection “That Other Garden” was awarded First Place in the Academy of American Poets’ CWP competition. In 2004, she moved to Istanbul and began the journey that led to Cunda.