Birhan Keskin's Kırklareli

We asked poet Birhan Keskin, winner of the Golden Orange Poetry Prize, about his hometown, Kırklareli, of which he says, “It reminds me of the world’s warm and compassionate sides”.

I see the sunflower fields or, as we call them, the ‘sun-turned’ fields. And then I picture the ‘raven rock’ in my village. When I go there, I sit on that rock to be buffeted by the wind and to gaze down from there on a childhood I can barely remember. The vast forests of my childhood memory, where have they gone? I don’t know! The covered market in the center of town. The world’s smallest covered market! Take one step and you’re through it, that’s how small it is. And of course the radiant, big-hearted people of Kırklareli who bring peace to the mind. Wonderful people who make even the saddest folk song beat to a joyful rhythm.

Is there anything about nature in the area that inspires you?
The ‘open’ air of Kırklareli and Thrace, the endless fields of sunflowers, and the flatness of the land when one steps on it at evening… When they all come together under the dome of the sky it reminds me of the world’s warm and compassionate sides, and I feel as if I am inside a wonderful poem.

What do you remember about your childhood in Kırklareli?
Vineyards, dark clusters of grapes hanging on the stocky vines, fields stretching away into the distance, so far from the house. Cool childhood naps under a tree while the harvest was being brought in. And riding on a threshing sledge and the childlike ecstasy I derived from the sound of the ripe grain rustling beneath me as I turned round and round.

What would you recommend to people going to Kırklareli?
The downtown of Kırklareli is very small. But it might still be nice to delve into some of the neighborhoods. The quarters of Kırklar and Yayla, for example. I would also recommend going to some of the neighboring towns, especially İğneada.