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Edip Cansever Censored

Edip Cansever by Metin ElogluAccording to the Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet (Feb 13, 2013) two verses from Edip Cansever’s poem “Table” have been cut from the National Education Ministry’s high school poetry textbook. The offending verses have been axed because they contain the word “beer”. It’s the latest in a disturbing trend among the overseers of Turkey’s moral well-being. Previously Amin Malouf’s Samarkand was investigated for allegedly being “vulgar and insulting” to Islam. You can read the full story, in English, at this link: Hurriyet. And in the post above you can read my translation of “Table” by Edip Cansever, in full.

Also on the theme of censorship, Turkish Airlines’ inflight magazine Skylife was recently fined for censoring an article by the well-known writer Buket Uzuner. In her article about the district of Moda, Uzuner criticized the Istanbul Municipality for its ban on the sale of alcohol in the district. Uzuner’s criticism was cut from the June 2009 edition of Skylife without her permission. A court ruling in Uzuner’s favour ordered THY to cancel the June 2009 edition and republish the original article in full. See the Feb 23, 2013 edition of Hurriyet here.


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George Messo Reads Edip Cansever

George Messo reads Cross-section by Edip Cansever from his Popescu Prize shortlisted book, İkinci Yeni: The Turkish Avant-Garde.

Click here to watch the video.

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The Popescu 2009 Shortlist

Poems by Oktay RifatIt’s wonderful to see Oktay Rifat’s Poems, translated by Ruth Christie and Richard McKane, making the shortlist for the 2009 Corneliu M Popescu Award for European Poetry in Translation. It’s a marvellous book, which I reviewed last year for World Literature Today. The judges for this year’s award are the poets Stephen Romer and Elaine Feinstein, and they’ll be announcing the winner in November. The complete shortlist looks like this:

Mad Women by Gabriela Mistral, translated by Randall Couch. Spanish / Chile. University of Chicago Press.

Unfinished Ode to Mud, by Francis Ponge, translated by Beverley Bie Brahic. French / France. CB Editions.

Against Heaven, by Dulce Maria Loynaz, translated by James O’Connor. Spanish / Cuba. Carcanet.

Poems, by Oktay Rifat, translated by Ruth Christie and Richard McKane. Turkish / Turkey. Anvil.

Courts of Air and Earth, various, translated by Trevor Joyce. Middle and Early-Modern Irish / Ireland. Shearsman Books.

Birdsong on the Seabed, by Elena Shvarts, translated by Sasha Dugdale. Russian / Russia. Bloodaxe.

Rime, by Dante Alighieri, translated by JG Nichols and Anthony Mortimer. Italian / Italy. One World Classics.

Selected Poems, by CP Cavafy, translated by Avi Sharon. Greek / Greece. Penguin Classics.

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The Turkish Avant-Garde

Ikinci Yeni: The Turkish Avant-GardeWork on the Ikinci Yeni anthology is now reaching its closing stages. Tony has this initial draft of the cover up on the Shearsman site and this is what the back cover has to say:

“In the mid 1950s a small but energetic group of young Turkish poets exploded into creative life. Their vivid, cosmopolitan experimentalism sent shock waves through the literary establishment. They became known as the Ikinci Yeni (The Second New). Inspired by surrealism and the contemporary European avant-garde, their influence was widespread and lasting—Turkish poetry would never be the same again.

In this unique anthology George Messo introduces broad selections from five of the leading Ikinci Yeni poets: Ece Ayhan, Ilhan Berk, Edip Cansever, Cemal Süreya and Turgut Uyar.”

More details at the Shearsman site and more updates as we come closer to the 15 November release.

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The Drums of Ramazan

davulcuIn Turkey, there is a long and venerable tradition of drumming in the month of Ramazan. In the small hours before dawn a drummer beats his way on foot, neighbourhood by neighbourhood through the district, from street to street, waking the faithful and signaling the time for sahur, the last permitted meal before morning prayer and the start of fasting. It’s one of the many colourful, rich traditions that come alive at Ramazan, and the sahur drummers are unique to the Turkic world.

Shortly before I left home last week, I pulled out a card from my letterbox. It read: “Esteemed Residents of Ilker, your Ramazan dummers are Inan Çelik, Ufuk Çelik, Mehmet Ali Çelik and Murat Demir. And in their own words, “Gece sahur davulunuzu bizler çaliyoruz.” There’s a ring of pride to it, and rightly so. We should be proud too. They’re our drums, after all.

Here, in the high pastures of Switzerland, I set my clock and hope the cuckoo wakes me in time.

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Welcome to George Messo’s Blog.

Over the next few months I’ll be posting updates about my books, essays, reviews, poems, translations, and extracts from work-in-progress.

And from time to time I’ll post related news from Turkey as it intersects with some of the poets I translate and with projects in the broader translation community.

So, welcome again. I hope you’ll make this a regular stop.

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