Tag Archives: poetry in translation

George Messo reads Water Clock by Ilhan Berk

Letters & SoundsClick the image to listen

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Filed under ilhan Berk, Poetry of the Middle East, Sufism, Turkish Poetry, World Literature

Letters & Sounds

Letters & SoundsHere is the cover of my new translation of Ilhan Berk’s Letters & Sounds, due out this summer from Red Hand Books. You can read a short blurb and pre-order a copy – if the mood takes you – from the RHB website at www.rhbks.com This is my fourth book-length translation of Berk’s extraordinary poems. A Leaf About to Fall came out with Salt in 2006 and made the shortlist for the 2007 Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize. In 2008 Shearsman published Madrigals, followed in 2009 by my anthology (including work by Ilhan Berk), Ikinci Yeni: The Turkish Avant-Garde, which was also shortlisted for the Popescu Prize in 2011. Again in 2009, Salt published The Book of Things, Berk’s epic poetic trilogy of Things That Are, Things That Aren’t, Long Live Numbers, and House. Berk’s new book, Letters & Sounds, features a stunning cover painting by the man himself.

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Filed under ilhan Berk, Poetry of the Middle East, Turkish Poetry, World Literature

& Silk & Love & Flame

& Silk & Love & Flame

My new translation of Birhan Keskin’s poetry, & Silk & Love & Flame, is fresh off the press from Arc Publications in England. It carries this fabulous endorsement from Mary Jo Bang: “These highly original poems are marked by a daring self-assurance paired with an eerie emotional precision. Birhan Keskin erases the delicate line between matter and consciousness and lays bare, in the clearest possible terms, what it is to be alive. In the ravishing world of these poems, every atom is perceived, every molecule insists we are one with the things we love: a black river, a curtain of rain, the silk slats of an open fan. George Messo has made us a gift by bringing these poems across into English.”

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Threewells Street

A whole long day I watched the sea. Great sea.
Storms gathered in. I sat and chiseled out

a skiff. A road lapped its way to the sea,
later going down behind Pazardağ. Barely seen.

A Greek ship off shore was slowing, putting anchor down.
Aganta! I shouted suddenly. The sea echoed back.

The city was water. Water everywhere. Water, water, water.
I threw a fish into the air and the skiff bowed under me.

– The day’s shortened, air sharp as a knife! I said.
Then I got up and headed off for Threewells Street.

 

İlhan Berk
Translated by George Messo

 

Taken from İkinci Yeni: The Trukish Avant-Garde, 2009, published by Shearsman Books.

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Halo

What kind of poem is it?
a poem that tells of strange and unusual things
a bare footed poem
an incurable poem
a poem that carries water to houses
a poem that holds the hand of mud
a poem that is the sleeping state of language
a poem walking hand in hand with the devil
a poem that spits
a subversive poem
a poem that waters fields
a poem for those that simultaneously exist and don’t exist
a poem for the prophet of doom
an impossible poem
a poem in which someone vomits
a brave poem
a poem that says no
an insane poem
a poem that breaks the law
a poem that tells of a matchbox
What kind of poem is it?
a poem that tells of strange and unusual things
a bare footed poem
an incurable poem
a poem that carries water to houses
a poem that holds the hand of mud
a poem that is the sleeping state of language
a poem walking hand in hand with the devil
a poem that spits
a subversive poem
a poem that waters fields
a poem for those that simultaneously exist and don’t exist
a poem for the prophet of doom
an impossible poem
a poem in which someone vomits
a brave poem
a poem that says no
an insane poem
a poem that breaks the law
a poem that tells of a matchbox
a poem of strength
an erect poem
a poem that snores
a poem whose words are poison
a poem with a (slight) limp
a poem like the Great Wall of China
a pervert poem
a poem that crushes the ticks of children
a poem like an iron fist
a poem for every object
a poem like an open wound
a poem that never heals
a poem that is my horizon
a poem of divine inspiration

İlhan Berk
Translated by George Messo

from The Book of Things by İlhan Berk (Salt, 2009)

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Photograph

The four of us were taken in the park,
Me, Orhan, Oktay, Şinasi too…
It seems to be autumn
Some of us in coats, some in jackets
The trees behind us are leafless…
Oktay’s father hasn’t yet died,
I don’t have a moustache,
Orhan hasn’t yet met Süleyman Efendi.

But I never was that gloomy;
What is it in this picture that recalls death?
Still, we’re all alive.

Melih Cevdet Anday
Translated by George Messo

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here, lemon grass

lemon grass in September’s haste
grows impatient
for you to sense
its ready scent …

on the white wall,
the Judas tree
somehow opens into cloud
instead of flower…

there,
as cloud opens:
the wall,
as if sky…

on this shore,
whatever may be or not,
there’s always a tulip…

Hilmi Yavuz
Translated by George Messo

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Filed under Turkish Poetry, World Literature