Translation House, Switzerland

panoramaI finally arrived two days ago at the magnificent Ǜbersetzerhaus Looren, situated near the Swiss hill village of Wernetshausen, east of Zurich. I’m here in this spectacular location to prepare the final manuscript of Ikinci Yeni: The Turkish Avant-Garde, due from Shearsman Books this November. And with that wonderful panorama (above) facing me everyday, the hard work is in turning away and keeping my eyes on the books. The garden is a riot of greens – and coming from Saudi Arabia, what a blast that is to the senses – peppered with vibrant yellows and purples, brilliant whites and pinks of wild flowers fringing the lawn. There is a small vegetable plot and a herb garden next to the house, and as the storms rolled in last night I sat out there under hazels getting slowly soaked in the rain and the scents of jasmine and thyme – the first rain I’ve seen for eight months.

I’m also here to work on a small book of poems by Zafer Ekin Karabay. Zafer was a remarkable young man and a gifted poet. We first met back in 1999, playing table-football in a café in Ankara. Next month, 13 September, sees the seventh anniversary of his death. He died, by his own hand, two and a half months before the release of his first book of poems, Şubatta Saklambaç.

So, Switzerland. There are three fresh peaches ripening on my desk. If the sun comes out (and I’m hoping it doesn’t – you can really miss clouds you know!), I’ll eat the first for Iftar. Allah kabul etsin. Before then, and while the sun is still a stranger to my fruit, I’m going out into the garden again…


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