New Poets In The Atlas Of Poetry

Sponsored this year for the second time by the European Capital of Culture Agency, the International Istanbul Poetry Festival welcomed forty poets, 20 Turks and 20 foreigners. And we in turn took a closer look at the poets who are opening up new horizons in Turkish poetry.

Although not much read, poetry is much loved in Turkey. Indeed four out of every three Turks is said to be a poet! Modern Turkish poetry is fortunate to have a deeply rooted heritage, and events in which poets take part are just one of the activities that bring together those eager to know the offshoots of that heritage today. And Istanbul naturally is one of the most frequent venues for such meetings. Host to two empires and numerous cultures, Istanbul not only inspires poets, it also plays host to a number of events focused on poetry. The International Istanbul Poetry Festival, which brings together prominent poets from Turkey and the world in the city every year, is one of those activities. This year forty poets, 20 from Turkey and 20 from abroad, took part in the festival, May 11-15. While we are on the subject, let’s take a look at some of the leading names in Turkish poetry today.

Ömer Erdem, who has forged a language of elegant simplicity in his six books of poems, manages to turn even the most melancholic images into poetry under a clear sky. I might also add that he meticulously preserves his sense of the naive.

Although we know him more from his novels, Murat Menteş is a unique poet who has just produced a second book of poetry. Indeed, those who wonder to what he owes the language and style of his fiction can look to those poems as the source. His is a poetry fueled mainly by irony and parody.

Gonca Özmen is an award-winning, young poet who uses words frugally, writing a dense and pure form of poetry that has no truck with excesses of any kind. A poet unostentatious and hard-working despite her many awards.

İbrahim Tenekeci, who has published four books of poetry, betrays a subtle humor in his poems. Although Tenekeci, who treats the nuances of everyday life’s unremarkable details in his poetry, commands attention for his inventiveness, he captures true beauty through a new sensitivity to the heart and mind.

Attracting attention with her first book, Aslı Serin captures the multiple dimensions of irony, going beyond a critical approach to everyday life and putting her own stamp on poetry by inventing new forms. Another positive side of Serin’s poetry is that she never falls into the trap of ‘poeticizing’.

Mehmet Can Doğan, who has published five books of poetry, stands out for his poetic knowledge. Doğan, who slowly constructs his mythology in the poetry of our day, is a poet who speaks with a unique voice. Cold and distant at first glance, his poetry is surprisingly open and ‘different’ upon a second and third reading.

Hayriye Ünal, who has published three books, weaves many sub-texts and references into her long poems, each one of which is an adventure in intellectual discovery. This is a poetry not to be consumed in a single reading, a poetry that demands labor and patience of the reader.

Hakan Arslanbenzer’s ‘neo-epic’ poetry is both a theoretical and a practical effort that has caused a sea change in the poetry both of those who rally round him and those who oppose him. He has launched new initiatives and opened up new horizons in a poetry that was locked in the imagery of the eighties.

Birhan Keskin positions his poetry at the heart of candor and sincerity outside the conventional concept of the ‘poetical’. Speaking in his own voice, through his own poetry, he is a unique poet who invents a poetic world steeped in its own atmosphere. And it is precisely this that makes him so different. A poet’s poet, who can’t not write.

Writing poetry with a unique sensitivity captured through a synthesis of sound and knowledge of life, Hakan Şarkdemir is a poet who expresses the meaning of life through a profound interest in music. Şarkdemir, who has produced three books of poetry, has also made a name for himself as a critic.