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“Poetry Gives a Voice to the Voiceless”: An Interview with Gonca Özmen

By newdivan 22nd June 2020

Clare Roberts interviews Turkish poet Gonca Özmen on her experience writing for A New Divan, the importance of translation, and the Turkish poets we should all be reading.

How did you feel when you were first approached by Bill Swainson about writing a poem for A New Divan?

At first I felt happy and excited but then was filled with a mix of uncertainty, doubt and even fear as to whether I could do it justice. It was a real challenge – but I like being challenged, I really do! The idea of being a part of this multilingual anthology of poetry with respected poets under the name of Goethe fascinated me. My voice would be part of this amazing work and my poem would enter into an international poetic dialogue with ‘other’ poems in ‘other’ languages inspired by the culture of the ‘Other’. This was a unique opportunity for de-constructing the fear of the unknown and embracing the foreign, strange, unusual, alien, and exotic between the pages of a book! This gives us a platform to deal with the fear, hostility, disgust and/or hatred of the neighbour and to identify the differences and similarities between Eastern and Western poetry through comparative analysis that lead us to a deeper and richer understanding. I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this wonderful anthology, especially distinguished poet Joachim Sartorius for suggesting me to Bill Swainson and Tony Frazer, my dear publisher, for facilitating communication between us.  A New Divan is a poetic bridge between self and other, and I am very proud of being one of those poets who built this bridge – such a worthy experience!

Did you already have a relationship with Goethe and his West-Eastern Divan? How well is Goethe known in Turkey?

Goethe is quite well-known in Turkey, though not deeply. I think we need more critical works of quality in Turkish about when, how, and through which channels Goethe’s literary virtuosity entered into the Turkish cultural milieu. We also we need to think more about whether (or to what extent) he affects our literature in any way.

Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther and Faust have been translated into Turkish by competent translators and his West-Eastern Divan has been translated a few times and is by far among the best known of his works in Turkey. Goethe imagines himself in a conversation with the 14th-century Persian poet Hafiz in his Divan, a collection of poems that celebrates the encounter between the East and the West, writing “And though the whole world sink to ruin, / I will emulate you, Hafiz, you alone! / Let us, who are twin spirits share pleasure and sorrow! / To love like you, and drink like you / Shall be my pride and my life-long occupation.” (Goethe: Selected Verse, Ed. David Luke, New York: Penguin Books, 1986, p.237). Goethe called Hafiz his “twin” and I think instead of an exercise in romantic exoticising, his work is a kind of lyrical dialogue not only between East and West, but also a dialogue between Self and Other. His adaptation of Eastern poetic forms, his learning of Persian and his non-Orientalist approach to the culture and religion of this so-called “Eastern” area is something that is familiar in Turkey. For a Western poet or writer to approach this in such a manner and in that period of time is rare and inspiring. People living in the Middle East, itself a colonialist construction, are far more used to the crude approach that sees this part of the world as exotic, mysterious, dangerous, strange and an object to be exploited for the benefit of the “more developed” West. None of these things is a part of how Goethe approached the East in his Divan.

Tell me about the process of your poetry writing in general, and specifically for this project. What does this poem mean to you?

I started writing poetry when I was around 12 or 13 and my first poems were published just a few years later, when I was 15. I won my first poetry awards that very same year. However, reading came first for me, and I always try to be a receptive and creative reader first. In fact, I learned the art of poetry mainly by reading books of poetry. Strong poetry teaches you a lot, so I often try to read from poets of widely different cultural backgrounds in both Turkish and English. I write poems that I would want to read. I write when I’m inspired, by an idea or image, and then the first line comes. I like to write my poems by hand, rather than straight onto the computer. In my many notebooks I draft several versions of my poems, and it takes me a long time to decide to publish! I read them aloud in my head in order to feel the different sounds and music of the words, and to find the tone that I am searching for that particular poem. I prefer to write in order to allow the readers the chance to participate: I leave spaces for them to converse with the poem, with the poet or with themselves and to be part of the creative process. Thus the readers can bring their own joys, desires, lies, secrets, memories, relationships, ideas and images into my work. Emily Dickinson writes that “A word is dead / When it is said, / Some say. // I say it just / Begins to live That day.” (Poem 1212) – I mostly agree with her but I also believe the unsaid words in poems are also there –  waiting to be explored!

I worked on this particular project when I was in my hometown during my summer vacation. I took some notes before I went there, but they were too messy and loose. At home I could work with full concentration in the tranquillity, silence and calm of nature, in the comfort of leisure, as I had no obligation to work. I wrote even in my sleep – with the joy and excitement of the artistic communication with these two ‘dead’ poets: Goethe and Hafiz. Ezra Pound thinks that translation of poetry is the process of bringing a dead man back to life. He asserts that “Poetry is the most radical ‘other voice’ that allows us to reconcile ourselves with our human condition. (…) Its voice is other because it is the voice of passion and vision; it is from another world and this world; it is ancient but from this time”. Thus I can call this poem a kind of literary resurrection or an innovative process of giving another life to this ‘dead’ piece of writing. It is a creative dialogue, subversive conversation among the texts.

The poet persona of the poem reacts against the idea of ‘home’ as a sheltering, safe and peaceful place. Starting from Jung’s metaphor of house as psyche and Gaston Bachelard’s La poétique de l’espace (1957), I aimed to react against conservative societies who want to cage females into houses by dint of this traditional rhetoric. The female persona of the poem tells her lover to never take her to home, especially at nights. I concentrated on the logic of binary oppositions in western thinking and tried to blur and turn upside down the traditional images of private and public life, dialectics of outside and inside, gender roles, past and present, nature and culture, day and night, and of course west and east by using a juxtaposition of the abstract and the everyday, colloquial language. Houses are full of violence – houses are full of hidden oppression and violation – just as the world is a bigger house. It is a way of questioning the idea of placement or non-placement in terms of identities and nationalities within this shitty world. Anne Carson writes that “Poetry is error, the wilful creation of error.” I totally agree with her!

You set the poem (beautifully, might I add!) to music, and also produced a video inspired by it. You were the only contributor to the project who did this and I find it very interesting. Can you tell me more about this? How does poetry change when it is read out loud?

Thank you Clare. Each encounter is valuable as it stimulates a change on both sides. Thus the encounter between my poem and music and then the video can be called an artistic collaboration and a dialogue, just like translation. Music offers a new kind of perspective, a new kind of layer into the poem and the video also offers more opportunities to inspire people.

My poems in general have music in them. I work really hard on the internal music, rhythm, and tone of them. I check how intonation works by reading out loud as I work. I am very much interested in their sound construction and sound structure with their respective sonic and acoustic effects, assonance, metre, alliteration, repetitive sounds, internal rhymes – how this auditory communication conveys meaning. Tone plays a crucial role in shaping the context. Sound gives the contextual depth.

I try to capture the rhythms of ordinary speech. I experimented with musical nursery rhymes in my last book, one of them called ‘Memet’ was also composed by distinguished musician Cymin Samawatie. Here is the link:  https://youtu.be/ft_4d_nq2K8

I was involved in a special project about a lake, Burdur Lake [in Turkey], which is about to dry up. I was asked to write a poem on the composition of Turgay Erdener, a great composer, called “Song of Lament” which is based on Goethe’s Faust. To write for a piece of music was a new experience for me, but the music haunted me, and I wrote a distinctive poem, “Göle Yas” (Lament for the Lake). Afterwards the director, my dearest friend Mehmet Şafak Türkel, used this poem as the title of his documentary along with the poem/song itself. A distinguished musician Selva Erdener included this song in her latest album:  https://youtu.be/v8jgPFQjclk All great collaborations!

After these collaborative works, “Bile İsteye”, the poem of the anthology, was set to music by the musician Mert Kamiller. When I shared the composition with Mehmet Şafak Türkel, he wanted to shoot a short film for it. Both of these attempts can be considered as works of translation. These artists are also changing one medium into another – changing the poem into new forms rather than new languages. I believe that this kind of dialogue between different art forms opens up alternative dimensions for both works. This is again an act of reading, interpreting, decoding meaning, and creating your own text. Collaborating with other art forms is very rewarding for me and helps to add different layers to my poetry. A poem has limitless potentialities.

Additionally, I have a great fondness for folk songs mostly known as “türkü” and my grandmother, an illiterate woman, used to recite “mani’s”, which can be defined as short rhyming folk poems. My great-grandmother, who was a real nomad and an illiterate woman, used to tell strange, metaphorical fairy tales to me for hours. All of these voices are in my memory just like the collective memory of my society. It is poetry coming out of the rich oral tradition based on musical genres, chants, songs, rhymes, jokes, riddles, myths, spells, legends, proverbs, riddles, tongue-twisters, word games, recitations, ritual texts, epic poems, laments, folk tales, and historical narratives.

I have been trying to learn Turkish ever since I lived in Ankara as a teenager. I am always amazed by the beauty of the language, and the scope of the language to explore so many different possibilities. Is there any aspect of poetry that you feel is unique to Turkish language?

A very interesting question. It is difficult for a native speaker/writer to step outside her language and view it as a “foreigner” might. However, it is also something that we should do really. Sometimes an outside eye can see things the native eye might miss.

The music of the language comes, I feel, from two things: firstly, the language is rich in vowel sounds: we have eight vowels and they are the dominant feature of the phonic system. Secondly, the language is constructed around the idea of vowel harmony. This means that certain vowels always harmonise with others and our words, which are agglutinative (meaning you add suffixes to a base to build a word that contains many of those grammatical functions that it takes a sentence to say in Western languages). Perhaps an example will make this clearer: “Gör-” is the base of the verb “to see”, but if you build it up like this, “görülmüştür”, you get one word for which you need four words to translate into English. Also all the vowels here are what we call front vowels and are all in harmony either with “ö” or “ü”. This gives the language a strong but sometimes delicate and harmonious music. It also allows us to say a lot with what might look like fewer words. This means our poetry can be very concise and we can express much in a succinct manner. I think it also allows us to move quickly from idea to idea and image to image resulting in intense and supple poetry. Of course these are general remarks and not everybody uses the language in the same way. I would also add that as an agglutinative language it is rich in rhyme, and this too is an advantage. Thus a poet writing in Turkish can create many different sound structures. It is also possible to leave out subjects and objects, which is perfect for suggesting emotions and states rather than stating them bluntly. We have gender neutral pronouns which gives a great freedom in writing. Lastly the syntax is very flexible, we can turn sentences around and inside out, and this is perfect for poetry.

You are involved with the publication Turkish Poetry Today. What do you see as the role of poetry right now in Turkey, and more globally? How do you feel about the status of poets in Turkey today? Is this changing?

In Turkey we often complain that poetry has lost the prestige it had only a few generations ago. However I think we can still say that it has a higher profile than in some western countries. There are many poetry magazines and poets and many, many more aspiring poets. During the Gezi protests seven years ago we witnessed an interesting movement called şiirsokakta, “poetryisinthestreets”, where people scrawled lines from their favourite poems on walls and sometimes on the ground alongside political slogans and news about police brutality and attacks. It restored a kind of strength and dignity to poetry (though some failed to understand this) and it made poetry new again, especially for the younger generation. This showed us that poetry is still something people read and find relevant and important. I know that we can not change the world by writing poetry but I know we can change people, and together with these people, we can create a better world, at least we can fight to change things.

Poetry is a vital force in Turkey. It has a really long and rich past from oral literature to contemporary poetry. In his essay “Poetry Alive in Turkey”, Talat Sait Halman writes that “The history of Turkish culture is intertwined with all varieties of verse – lyrical, didactic, epigrammatic, narrative, religious, philosophical, humorous, topographical, erotic, metaphysical, satirical, elegiac, panegyrical, and political.” This rich and long poetic tradition has played a crucial role in our cultural transformation. The establishment of the Republic in 1923 led us to language reform, the adoption of the Latin alphabet, the secularisation of government, and education and Westernisation. This brought a split with the literature of the past. In the 1920s Nâzım Hikmet revolutionised poetry by way of themes and his use of a free verse technique. Afterwards in the 1940s Garip Movement brought about another poetic revolution by introducing radical changes. They avoided simile or metaphor, used ordinary words, everyday language, chose their subjects from the objects and events of daily life, and eschewed meter and formal rhyme schemes. The late 1950s saw the Second New Movement as a reaction to the Garip movement. As a very influential poetry movement, this movement was inspired by the disruption of language in such Western movements as the Dada and Surrealist movements. These sought to create a more abstract poetry and linguistic experimentalism.

Since then I find the most revolutionary change to have been the deconstruction of male authority within language and the fact that the poetry tradition since the 1980s  has seen an increase in female poets and writers. Female poets are challenging and disrupting the ways in which women are represented within mainstream cultural production, and deconstructing the myth of the male genius, which still lies in the hands of male-dominated institutions. They are trying to find a way out of the inscriptions of masculinity in art and history by reacting against these codes. I am very proud to be part of this.

Poetry is an incredibly powerful tool. It can be used as a weapon and it can be a shelter. Poetry is a shape-shifter. Poets are shape-shifters. It is still so revolutionary, it is still so powerful. Poetry gives a voice to the voiceless. It makes the invisible visible. It shows things that are not shown. It thinks the unthinkable. It says the unsayable. By doing all this and other things, poetry adds new eyes to its readers. I don’t know anything more revolutionary than that!

What is the significance, to you, of cross-cultural and multilingual literary projects between the Middle East and the “West” in today’s world such as A New Divan?

Any project aimed at turning the idea of the “Other” on its head can only be seen as a superbly radical act. At present we are living through times in which those who rule our countries often try to force us into positions of opposition. Islam is opposed to the West, the West is opposed to its monolithic idea of Islam, or perhaps to state it more accurately: to countries with a Muslim majority. It might better be said that, in truth, after hundreds of years of interaction the so-called East and West still do not know each other very well. Not on any deep level anyhow. This is still a huge conflict.

In Turkey both western and eastern elements co-exist, sometimes peacefully and sometimes not. So any project that aims to weave these strands together is very welcome as we need to keep dialogue between these parts of the world open. Projects like A New Divan allow us to come together, to share our work and simply to see how much we as writers and creators have in common.

Do you feel a responsibility as one of the best-known contemporary young Turkish poets being translated into other languages today?

First of all, I have to say that I am very happy with the changing attitudes and tastes toward Turkish poetry, particularly because of the financial support for translators and increased opportunities to publish literary works in translation. Of course more is needed. That is why all of us have to feel and share this intellectual respect for each other and responsibility for destroying boundaries between countries and creating bridges for more communication. I am actively engaged in the literary arena – publishing magazines, organising and participating in national and international readings, workshops, festivals – sometimes with my colleagues, brilliant poets like Gökçenur Ç. and Efe Duyan. As a distinguished translator, Neil Patrick Doherty has been working like an independent missionary in order to introduce Turkish poetry to the English speaking world. These efforts of ours focus not only on being translated but also on spreading awareness of our language, encouraging other poets to create connections, introducing our own poetry and also Turkish poetry in general to a new culture. Sometimes you need to sing too loud in order to be heard!

How, in your opinion, does translation change your poetry? And you as a poet?

I am involved in the field of translation studies focusing on literary translation, let’s say the poetics and politics of translation. I have been reading and writing essays on translation, conducting interviews with well-respected translators, and participating in translation workshops and translating mainly from English to Turkish.

I have been learning a lot from translation both as a reader and a poet. I have one book published in English (The Sea Within, trans. George Messo, Shearsman) and another one in German (Vielleicht Lautlos, trans. Monika Carbe & Barbara Yurtdaş, Elif Verlag). My poems have also been translated into many different languages and published in different magazines, anthologies and collections. Ultimately, I have discovered things that I didn’t even know about my poetry, my language with the help of translation. As professor and postcolonial theorist Gayatri Spivak says, translation is “the most intimate act of reading” and also a “mis-reading” in Benjamin’s words, so I believe that translators are great readers – they can find the dark paths, the hidden rooms or locked cupboards! They can find ways of finding out more about your words, your thoughts, your emotions, your language, and your culture. They have this incredible ability to sing your song in a new voice with new melodies – but the song is still similar, or should I say the same?

Translation is a kind of metamorphosis. It is a journey to the Other – a journey to another mind, a journey to another language and tradition, a journey to another culture, a journey to another realm. It is a re-creation, re-voicing, re-vision, re-evaluation and re-writing. Translation can resurrect the dead. Translation can change the flow of the river.

How do you feel about Jo Shapcott’s English version of your poem “Bile İsteye”?

The National Poetry Library, the largest public collection of modern poetry at Southbank Centre in London, became my treasure trove while I was working on my Ph.D. in English Language and Literature. This library, with its wonderful collections, enabled me to access the most recent publications of female poets. My aim was to trace the politics of the representation of the female (body) in visual and verbal western phallocentric art and history by analysing ekphrastic poems by contemporary female poets. I was looking for those who rewrite the patterns of power and the value of representation in art and history in order to both expose and revise its gender-specific system of values and liberate the female body. Yes, there are many powerful examples of feminist ekphrasis: “Sea Unicorns and Land Unicorns” by Marianne Moore, “Mourning Picture” by Adrienne Rich, “The Starry Night” by Anne Sexton, “Agosta the Winged Man and Rasha the Black Dove” by Rita Dove, Vicki Feaver’s “Naked Girl with Egg”, Barbara Guest’s “Dora Maar” and “The Nude”, Alison Fell’s “Rodin’s Muse”, Edward Lucie Smith’s “Rubens to Hélène Fourment”, Judith Wright’s “Naked Girl and Mirror”, U. A. Fanthorpe’s “Not my Best Side”, Lisel Mueller’s “A Nude by Edward Hopper”… Inspiring poets like Penelope Shuttle, Grace Nichols, Carol Ann Duffy, Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Paula Meehan, Fleur Adcock, Penelope Shuttle, Pascale Petit, Elaine Feinstein, Liz Lochhead, Ruth Fainlight, Alison Fell, Jackie Kay, Ruth Padel have all written examples of this.

I had been working at the library all day, reading with great admiration and passion, but I kept looking at the door, dreaming that one of those poets would walk through the door and recognise me. Jo Shapcott was one of those poets on my reading list who, along with other pioneering  contemporary female poets, is interested in body politics. Thus I read her with enthusiasm and appreciation. I have been particularly inspired by three of her books: My Life Asleep, Tender Taxes and Of MutabilityEmergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times (1996, ed. by Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney) is a very successful selection of poems from many different parts of English-speaking world. I love its diversity, its ‘strange’ness, its richness and its vitality. In addition to her poetry, she also deserves the upmost respect for her feminist strategies, political standing and her anti-war attitude. Now our names are written side by side on the pages of A New Divan as if we are sitting there at a table in the library talking eagerly and giggling. This makes me so happy and proud. I hope that in the near future I will have the honour of translating her poems into Turkish as well.

The literal translation of my poem was made by Maureen Freely, one of the best Turkish to English translators, and Özge Çallı Spike. Their questions to me during the process of translation were so distinctive, amazing and illuminating (even for me), making me feel so confident and sure about the quality of the translation. If the questions of the translator are compatible with your poem, the result will be good. In other words, I figure out and foresee the quality of translation from the questions of the translator. I would like to thank them once again – this collaboration happened thanks to them!

Which Turkish poets do you believe the world should be reading?

This question gives me a meaningful opportunity to share the poets who are translated and published in English and a chance to thank the significant efforts of their translators again and remind us of the respect they all deserve. I would like this to be seen as a “further reading” section of reliable and accessible sources for the ones who are interested in gaining a wider appreciation of Turkish poetry.

However I have to acknowledge that Turkish poetry is still represented by a very limited number of translations even though TEDA (2005), a translation and publication project of Turkish cultural, artistic and literary works by foreign languages run by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, has increased the interest in Turkish literature.

If you are interested in older poetry, these three works will give you a good insight: The Age of Beloveds: Love and the Beloved in Early-Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society by Mehmet Kalpaklı and Walter G. Andrews (Duke University Press Books, 2005), Ottoman Lyric Poetry: An Anthology by Mehmet Kalpaklı, Walter G. Andrews, Najaat Black (University of Washington Press, 2006) and The Book of Turkish Poetry: Anthology of Sufi, Dervish, Divan, Court & Folk Poetry from the 12th – 20th Century by Paul Smith (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014).

For modern poetry, you need to look at the highly-regarded academician and translator Saliha Paker’s survey of Turkish literature in The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation (2000). As a pioneering attempt to document works of translation from Turkish to English, hers is an evaluative work. Between 1900 and 2000 there were only 26 books of Turkish poetry translated into English, and 11 of these were by Nâzım Hikmet. Nâzım Hikmet is still the most (sometimes the only name people know) well-known poet, and his work has been translated into more than 50 languages so I am reasonably sure many readers are familiar with his works.

Minor-language poetry is often presented in anthologies. It is nearly impossible to understand anything about a poet from three or four poems but it seems to be the easiest way, so this has become a destiny for many languages. The first anthologies, magazines and scholarly journals were edited and many essays and reviews were written by Nermin Menemencioğlu (The Penguin Book of Turkish Verse)  and Talat Sait Halman (Living Poets of Turkey). In addition these anthologies also should be mentioned: Feyyaz Kayacan Fergar’s Modern Turkish Poetry (Rockingham Press, 1992), Murat Nemet-Nejat’s Eda: An Anthology of Contemporary Turkish Poetry (Talisman, 2004), Talat Sait Halman and Jayne L. Warners’ A Brave New Quest: 100 Modern Turkish Poems (Syracuse University Press, 2006) George Messo’s İkinci Yeni: The Turkish Avant-Garde (Shearsman, 2009) From This Bridge: Contemporary Turkish Women Poets (Conversation Paperpress, 2010). Messo’s forthcoming book, Into the Labyrinth: Essays on Modern Turkish Poetry, will also help readers who want to know more about Turkish poetry.

We owe a lot to these dedicated poetry translators: Talat Sait Halman, Nermin Menemencioğlu, Feyyaz Kayacan Fergar, George Messo, Murat Nemet-Nejat, Ruth Christie, Saliha Paker, Mel Kenne, Richard McKane, and Neil Patrick Doherty.

Apart from his anthology, which presents an overview of the modern tradition of Turkish poetry, Murat Nemet-Nejat, an outstanding poet and a translator, has translated many books including I, Orhan Veli (Hanging Loose Press, 1989), A Blind Cat and Orthodoxies from Ece Ayhan (Sun and Moon, 1997), Selected Poems by İlhan Berk (Önder Otçu and Murat Nemet-Nejat, Talisman, 2004), Rosestrikes and Coffee Grinds by Seyhan Erözçelik (Talisman, 2016), and Y’ol by Birhan Keskin (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018).

George Messo, a respected poet, editor, and translator has strived greatly to introduce Turkish poetry to the English-speaking world. He was the editor of the Turkish Modern Poets series for Red Hand Books and the international journal Turkish Poetry Today. Besides two anthologies, he translated İlhan Berk’s distinctive, innovative, and inspiring poetry: A Leaf About to Fall: Selected Poems (Salt, 2006), Madrigals (Shearsman, 2008), and The Book of Things (Salt, 2009), New Selected Poems 1947-2008 (Shearsman, 2016). George Messo also translated my selected poems called The Sea Within (Shearsman, 2011) and those of my dearest friend and fascinating poet Birhan Keskin, & Silk & Love & Flame: Selected Poems (Arc, 2013).

Ruth Christie translated Nazım Hikmet’s Beyond the Walls (with Richard McKane and T. S. Halman, Carcanet, 2004) Bejan Matur’s In the Temple of a Patient God (Arc, 2004) and her How Abraham Abandoned Me (Arc, 2012), Poems of Oktay Rifat (with R. McKane, Carcanet 2006), Güven Turan’s Secret Domain (Red Hand Books, 2015), Cevat Çapan’s The Voice of Water (Arc, 2017).

Edip Cansever’s Dirty August (trans.by R. Tillinghast and J. C. Tillinghast, Talisman, 2009) should also be mentioned. Enis Batur’s Selected Poems (ed. Saliha Paker, Talisman, 2006) and Gülten Akın’s What Have You Carried Over? Poems of 42 Days and Other Works (ed. by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne, Talisman, 2013) are accurately and successfully translated books since they were done in a translation workshop with the participation of the poet. I was also invited to this wonderful workshop in 2019 – such a fantastic experience with all these brilliant translators (Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature: http://tecca.boun.edu.tr/) Another platform that contributes a great deal to introducing Turkish poetry by organising translation workshops is Literature Across Frontiers (LAF) – European Platform for Literary Exchange, Translation and Policy Debate that aims to develop intercultural dialogue through literature and translation and to highlight less translated literatures. We need more collaboration, a bigger budget, and more energy, love, curiosity and passion to help us know one another.

Click here to read Gonca Özmen’s contribution to A New Divan.

You can hear a recording of her reading the poem here.