After my first publication ever, over at Poet Head, i got a friend request from a chap called Neil Patrick Doherty, over on the Facebook. i accepted. Neil lives in Istanbul & has done for a long time, if memory serves, 20 years or so. He is a translator of Turkish poems into English. He has made hundreds of translations. Along with his colleagues Mel Kenne & İdil Karacadağ they edit the journal Turkish Poetry Today. Neil has introduced me to so many important poets & thinkers i really wanted to show my support, so i have ordered a copy.
This issue, the 5th Vol, focuses on Gülten Akın, most of the poems featured come from her final book If you ask about me. Akin died in 2015. i have read a number of Neil’s translations of Akin’s work & it is incredible; so i just had to order my copy.
In addition there is an equilibrium of male & female contemporary poets, who i have not heard of & am very eager to get to know. When i asked Neil, he told me “the general poetry section is a mix of very new work from journals (Çayan Okuduci for example) and older poets like Sezai Karakoç (the leading Islamic poet in the country) and Metin Cengiz and Enis Batur. We also have a good gender balance with lots of woman poets like Süreyya Aaylin, Antmen, Birhan Keskin, Nilay Özer, Lale Müldür etc.”
i want to avoid sounding like a self-professed expert, what i know about Turkey i can fit in the palm of my hand; in my conversations with Neil (from which i have learned everything i know) he has expressed (directly to me & indirectly though the posts & links he puts up) how important poetry is in Turkish culture, lines of poetry are found written on the walls of Istanbul; i even recall him saying somewhere that it was chanted during protests. Writers are still thrown into prison, the universities still targeted, Erdogan’s government still seems to fear the potential poetry & literature have to stir revolt. Neil explained to me the cultural & political tension, informing the poetry with an intensity i certainly feel in Neil’s translations. Neil also told me there are no art’s councils, no grants of any sort for artists. & “most poets do not work in nice creative writing sinecures.”
i wish i could say more about Turkish poetry, maybe in time, after speaking with Neil & reading more; but for now, i just want to spread the word, get people gravitating to this journal. i see how little exposure world lit gets, especially poetry & it is a crime, it really is, especially when the poetry is so accomplished. The editors & translators at Turkish Poetry Today are one of a kind, they are there in the country (boots on the ground) meeting the poets & translating their poems so we can read them, their work is that of a dedicated servant to important works of literature. It needs to be supported & recognized for the addition it is to the literary oeuvre of the world. i can’t wait to get my copy.
You can buy it here, over at Amazon.