March 23, 2013

Zafer Şenoak

Zafer Şenoak [b. Turkey/Germany]

Born in Ankara, Turkey in 1961, Zafer Şenoak is now a writer living and working in Berlin. His father was a journalist and his mother a teacher, and in 1970 he moved with his family to Munich where he went on to study political science, philosophy and literature at the University of Munich.
      To date, Şenoak has seven volumes of poetry and numerous other books of essays and prose writing. Among his poetry volumes are Ritual der Jugend, Das senkrechte Meer, and Fernwehanstalten. Recently, Babel Verlag has issued a selected edition, Übergämg: Ausgewählte Gedichte 1980-2005 (Border Crossing: Selected Poems 1980-2005) which includes new poems written in the decade since Fernwehanstalten.
     The poet has also published translations of the 14th-century Anatolian mystic poet, Yunus Emre and has published works of fiction, Gefährliche Verwandtschaft, Die Prärie and Die Erottomane—Ein Findelbuch. His books of essays include Atlas des tropischen Deutschland (1992), War Hitler Araber? (2004), and Zungenentfernung (2001). His books have been translated into French, a his essays, Atlas of a Tropical Germany has been translated into English and published by the University of Nebraska Press, 2000.
     In 1988 he founded the literary magazine, Sirene. In that same year he received the Adelbert von Chamisso Award and a grant from the Berlin Senate for the Literarisches Colloquium. He was a fellow at the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles in 1996.
     Şenoak is a regular contributor to the German alternative daily Tagezeitung in Berlin, and has edited numerous bilingual essay and story collections in German and Turkish. He has been writer-in-residence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Darmouth College, University of Wales-Swansea, Oberlin College, and the University of California at Berkeley.


Elekrisches Blau (München: Edition Literazette, 1983); Flammenstropfen (Frankfurt/Main: Dagyeli Verlag, 1985); Ritual der Jugend (Frankfurt/Main: Dagyeli Verlag, 1987); Das senkrechte Meer (Berlin: Babel Verlag, 1991); Fernwehanstalten (Berlin: Babel Verlag, 2005); Übergang: Ausgewählte Gedichte 1980-2005 (Berlin: Babel Verlag, 2005)


selections in Douglas Messerli, ed. The PIP Anthology of World Poetry of the 20th Century, Volume 7—At Villa Aurora: Nine Contemporary Poets Writing in German (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2006)

The Tiger the Woods and Us

the tiger is no longer sad
we opened the cage and we took him
we like to smell him he smells us
and falls profoundly to sleep

he dreams
the way we
dream of him
the woods all to himself

the dark wood raises its white sex
pushes open our door
we keep dreaming
even when it scares us

at home the tiger is tame
the woods are wild and damp
soon comes summer and heavy breathing
we get into our thinnest skin.

—Translated from the German by Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright

The Invisible Woman

even the paths to us are getting shorter
look through the sunny wall of the house
a woman leans on the door
beautiful in her invisibility

all of this makeshift
waiting four us to take a step
but we don’t move
hold our hands back

we don’t sleep
when we don’t want to wake from a dream
lean for while at the door
and search for the word that is not written
—Translated from the German by Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright

English language translation copyright ©1997 by Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright, reprinted from Dimension2, Vol 4, no. 2 (1997).

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