August 6, 2011

Turgut Uyar (Turkey) 1927-1985

Turgut Uyar (Turkey) 

Born in Ankara on August 4, 1927, Turgut Uyar began his adult life at the Konya Military School, were for several years he served as staff officer. During this period he began to write poetry, publishing Arz-i Hall in 1949. 
     His first book already shows the influence of several poets of the Garip writers, including Orhan Veli. The poet is often described as belonging to the "second new" stage of the Garip group. 

     When he resigned his commission in 1958, Uyar went to work at the Cellulose and Paper Consortium in Ankara. During these years Uyar developed a friendship with Turkish poet Cemal Süreya. 
      Uyar's book, Tütünler Islak (Wet Tobacco), won the Seven Hills Prize for Poetry, a prestigious award in Turkey. Uyar died in Istanbul in 1985. 


Arz-ı Hal (1949); Türkiyem (1952-1963); Dünyanın En Güzel Arabistanı (1959); Tütünler Islak (1962); Her Pazartesi (1968); Divan (1970); Toplandılar (1974); Toplu Şiir (1981); Kayayı Delen İncir (1982); Dün Yok mu (1984); Büyük Saat (1984) 


selections in Feyyaz Kayacan Fergar, ed. Modern Turkish Poetry (Ware, England: The Rockinham Press, 1992); selection in Murat Nemet-Nejat, ed. and trans., EDA: An Anthology of Contemporary Turkish Poetry (Jersey City, New Jersey: Talisman House, 2004); selections in George Messo, ed. and trans., İkinci Yeni: The Turkish Avant-Garde (unpublished) 

One Day, Early in the Morning… 

Say I knock at the door one day, early morning, 
Wake you from your sleep: 
And yet, fog still lingers on the Golden Horn. 
There’s the echo of ferry horns. 
Twilight everywhere, 
The bridge is still up. 
Say I knock at the door early one morning… 

My journey has been long 
The train passed over iron bridges at night. 
Villages in the middle of nowhere with five or ten houses. 
Telegraph poles all along the route 
Running to keep up with us. 

Suppose I sang songs from the window, 
Woke up, dozed off, woke up again. 
My ticket, third class 
Poorer than poor. 
Say I couldn’t buy that meerschaum necklace 
So I bought you a basket of apples instead… 

Haydarpaşa open your arms we might have said 
The ferry glittering at the pier 
Air a little cold 
Sea smelling of fish and tar 
Say I crossed from the bridge to the other shore in a rowing boat, 
Climbed our hill in a single breath… 

Say I knock at the door early one morning, 
- Who’s that? You’d ask in a sleepy voice. 
Your hair ruffled, and heavy-eyed. 
Who knows how beautiful you’d look my love, 
If I knock at the door one morning, 
Wake you from your sleep 
And yet, fog still lingers on the Golden Horn. 
There’s the squeal of factory whistles. 

  —Translated from the Turkish by George Messo 

Evening Dream 

Far off ships are passing now 
My heart is scattered all over the decks. 
Lightened nights, lute sounds, cheese and bread 
I’ve neither ticket nor money nor friend 
My heart tremors as I look around 
- Turgut wake up, wake up poor one 
This is Terme. 

Lorries are passing over Terme bridge, 
Workmen talk three here, five there 
A night begins, half black, half red 
I light my cigarette and return home… 
- Sail on, ships, sail on 
Give greetings to wherever you go 
Some day far from all worries 
I’ll come too… 

—Translated from the Turkish by George Messo 

Night with Deer 

But there was nothing frightening there 
Only everything was made of nylon 
And when we died we died in thousands against the sun 
But before we found the night with deer 
We were all afraid like children. 

You should all know the night with deer 
In far off forests wild and green 
Sun sinking under its weight at the asphalt’s end 
Redeeming us all from time 

First we dug into the earth 
Then vanished 
From gladiators and wild toothed beasts 
From giant cities 
Staying hidden and fighting 
We saved the night with deer 

Yes we were alone but we had hope 
If we saw three houses we took it for a city 
If we saw three pigeons Mexico came to mind 
Evenings we loved to walk the streets 
And we loved the way women waited for their husbands 
Later we’d drink wine red or white 
Whether we knew it or not it was because of the night with deer 

—Translated from the Turkish by George Messo 

English language translation copyright ©2011 by George Messo, reprinted from the unpublished manuscript, İkinci Yeni: The Turkish Avant-Garde

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