Tag Archives: poetry


in the cave within me
lie shriveled corpses
poisonous ones smiling
in emerald ruby beds
who came once
as thieves
to bid me farewell

in the cave within me
there’s a mound of books
look close and you’ll see
painted faces move their eyes
and speak
their faces my face
their eyes my eyes


Asaf Halet Çelebi
Translated by George Messo


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


Eternity… Eternity…

There are no suitable words for eternity. There are words close to death. We associate with them in the world. When we are freed of the command of words – these death squads – objects too will enter the realm of immortality. Objects also yearn for immortality. When Imam Azam Ebu Hanife met eternity, he wasn’t at all surprised to find his earthly water clock right by his side. It was the first time a water clock had run outside time. He could hear it working.

Now that’s a miracle!

Words kill the desire for eternity. They stick to death’s agenda. Night’s mouth is full of leaves, day’s is full of night (night is a child), grasses’ full of cloud. All day we carried inside us what we knew and talked of what we knew:


I have always confused words. Words always explain themselves. Sky speaks of its late-coming. Water speaks of horizontals. That words mirror the world is an idea that carries water. I looked at trees before kissing you. Did you see that the trees could see? That’s how we talk, when we talk. Childhood flits from garden to garden. Death is what enters the narrative. Let’s pass it by. The world has no idea it’s turning. The spirit wanders blindly. Sun forgets its name when it sets.


İlhan Berk

Translated by George Messo

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

Books, I’m Giving Them Away!

It’s been a lean few months for updates. 2009 was a bumper year for books and all three of my new titles are now available through Amazon.co.uk. Hearing Still arrived sometime around June, and that was followed by an anthology of innovative modern poetry, İkinci Yeni: The Turkish Avant-Garde. Anyone with an interest in İlhan Berk, and the milieu of mid-century modernism will find plenty to engage here. In one important sense the anthology puts flesh on that phrase “Second New”, which many have read time and again in connection with modern Turkish verse. There are generous selections from all of the major Second New poets, an informative introduction and Turkish/English bibliographies of each poet’s work. Both books are from Tony Frazer’s pioneering Shearsman Books.

Coming closely after the İkinci Yeni anthology, İlhan Berk’s massive poetic trilogy, The Book of Things, finally arrived from Salt. Who could begin to describe the work of a poet as singular and eccentric as Berk? The Book of Things distils the very essence of Berk’s worldview, in just over 250 pages of scintillating summersaults, jigs and eye-bending parabolas.

And here’s the thing! I’ll mail a free copy of any of my new books to anyone who would like to write a review, anywhere in the world, be it for publication in print, online, or for a blog. Just drop me a line to say which book (or books) you want and where you want to post your review.

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Filed under Turkish Poetry

Birhan Keskin

Birhan KeskinArc Publications will be publishing my selected poems of Birhan Keskin, & Silk & Love & Flame, in 2010 as part of the Visible Poets Series, edited by Jean Boase-Beier. For a little pre-taste, you might like to follow the link below to Shearsman Magazine, where you’ll find my translation of her poem, Winter of Murder.

Shearsman Magazine 77/78.

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everything is green, but…

by Hilmi Yavuz

everything here is green,
like the sun;
summer angels have
their golden sky…

you question fruit blossoms
— soon, they’ll return to you
as pomegranates ripe with love…


Translated by George Messo

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Filed under Turkish Poetry

Adrianne Marcus, poet & writer

Adrianne MarcusPoet and author Adrianne Marcus, a regular contributor to Near East Review and one of the poets I translated for my 2004 book Aradaki Ses, died early on September 9 after a long illness. Adrianne was 74. Born in Everett, Mass. on March 7, 1935, Adrianne grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and graduated from San Francisco State University with degrees in Creative Writing.

Adrianne worked for The San Francisco Chronicle for many years as a food columnist. She also wrote two works of non-fiction, The Chocolate Bible and The Photojournalist: Mark & Leibovitz.

As a poet, Adrianne published over 400 poems, in such magazines as Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, Descant, Poetry Ireland, and The Nation. A poetry pamphlet, Magritte’s Stone, was published in Ireland in 2000. A memorial celebration of her life and work was held at Temple Rodef Sholom, 170 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael, CA 94901 at 11:00AM on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009.

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Filed under North American Poets

Zafer Ekin Karabay


silently secretly morning light unfolds,
spilling out over rooftops: to the face
of an old man drinking coffee on a broken chair,
to the simit hidden beneath its seller’s knitted
cloth, to the little finger of a child’s gloved
hand and to the city’s newly moving traffic.

but to others it never extends: the hands
laying hold to nihilism, a few books and
rock music, to a fragmented revolt
and the in-between-me that it doesn’t see.
beside me: sounds, barely distinct — i must
have left my radio on — i look out onto
the world from the vacuum of an apartment:
john lennon leaning on a wall smiling still.

Zafer Ekin Karabay
Translated by George Messo

Zafer Ekin KarabayZafer Ekin Karabay was born in Kayseri, Turkey, in 1975. He was a graduate of Ankara University’s faculty of law and later taught at Eskisehir University. His poems, film reviews and essays were widely published. In 1999 he won the Yaşar Nabi Nayır Prize for young poets and received the Special Jury Award for the Arkadaş Z. Özger Poetry Prize in 2000. He committed suicide on 13 September, 2002, two and a half months before the publication of his first and only book, Şubatta Saklambaç (February Hide & Seek).

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Filed under Turkish Poetry