Daily Archives: August 28, 2009

Remembering the Master

Remembering the MasterIt’s exactly one year to the day since that seemingly unstoppable man of letters, Ilhan Berk, died in his beloved town of Bodrum. I was in Yemen when the news finally reached me on August 31. I’d been up in the mountains near Kawkaban with Zeeshan, firing Kalashnikovs at olive cans and taking a tour of the ghat farms south of Shibam. It was one of those disembodied Middle East days, when the intense summer heat stirs each living soul into a post-noon trance and everything levitates two feet off the ground. We came down with a crash in San’a when I opened my mail and read the news from Ilhan’s son.

So here we are, one year on. For me, it’s been a year filled with Ilhan Berk: his epic poetic trilogy, The Book of Things, is due from Salt any day now; the anthology Ikinci Yeni: The Turkish Avant-Garde, with a broad selection from his work, is coming from Shearsman in November; Inferno, a new book of diaries, journals, essays and poems, is penciled in for 2010.

A Leaf About to FallAnd here, in celebration of his life and work, in the garden of Translation House, I’m giving a short reading from my 2006 translation, A Leaf About to Fall. We’ve had a sprinkling of rain, followed by a firm, cool breeze waking the walnut tree. In the deep black beyond the reach of the few candles lighting my seat, I like to think there’s another ear, turning in the wet grass, hungry for that other song. It’s as good a place as any to find the master.


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