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Van sand het ons gepraat

Van sand het ons gepraat

oor sand het ons gesels …

ons het die weerstand van skulpe verpletter, ons het gepraat oor versonke stede, gwebroek amfora’s, ondergrondse bewegings van sand; ons het gepraat oor die verval in vergetelheid van erbarmlikhede, oor blootse voetspore … ons het nie vergeet van die wandelhoofde van hout, dooie stormwind-lampe, geroeste ankers nie… ons het die ligvlekke op die maan wat in die see weerspieël word ook bygehaal, ons het oor Venus gepraat, die glorieryke liefde van die nag, en ander dinge …

want die wyn had ’n goedheid, die liefde van tydeloosheid, en die dolfyn ’n wysheid … ons het dit gesê, noudat die speeltros losgebind is, ons die stuurroede van ons dae hersien het …. het ons gesê … laat ons praat …

so praat hét ons …

ons het nie na stervisse verwys nie, na helderglinsterend gestreepte vis of die ligsinnigheid van wiere, die diepe slaap van jellievisse op die sand … ons het die spoelklippies oor die hoof gesien, die teervlekke, die reuk van gebrande olie … ’n verbaasde inkvis was in ons nette vasgekeer; maar ons het net gepraat …

oor delikate dinge …

oor sand …

İlyas Tunç

translated into Afrikaans by Charl-Pierre Naudé

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Selling Nigerian poets in Turkish market

Selling Nigerian poets in Turkish market

By AKEEM LASISI

Tuesday, 25 Jan 2011, The Punc Newspaper- Nigeria 

Apart from translating works of Nigerian poets into Turkish, Ilas Tunc is exposing them via various platforms in the European country, writes AKEEM LASISIOften, it takes a person watching from a distance to better appreciate how delicious boiled esuru yam and fresh palm oil is. As he watches the person eating it soak his hand in the oil and stylishly dip the drenched yam in his mouth, the observer feels the sweetness far more vividly than the lucky one doing the eating.

The Yoruba proverb seems to capture the experience that Turkish writer and translator, Ilyas Tunc, has had with modern written poetry in Nigeria. Apart from his interest in exploring works from other countries, and noting how African poets are responding to the socio-political challenges confronting the continent, an encounter he had with poet and critic, Odia Ofeimun, at Poetry Africa festival, held in Durban, South Africa in 2009 boosted his desire to closely study works of Nigerian poets.

About five years in the wilderness, Tunc now boasts a dependable picture of how the minds of old and new generation poets such as Gabriel Okara, Christopher Okigbo, Niyi Osundare, Ezenwa Ohaeto and Ogaga Ifowodo worked when producing some of the volumes that largely define the market. He professes he has learnt a lot about the written word from the country that gave Africa its first Nobel laureate. But, incidentally, his most memorable verses appear to have come from a writer who is predominantly a novelist – Chinua Achebe.

“Chinua Achebe’s Vultures is one of the poems I admire most in Nigerian poetry,” Tunc says in an online interview with our correspondent. “Here, the poet draws an unpleasant description of a pair of vultures who touch each other lovingly in their nest after feeding on a corpse. Not only does this poem show that love can exist in places someone wouldn’t have thought possible, but also that a concentration camp commander, in contrast with his cruelty, can share his affection with his family at home. Actually, there are many poems that lead me to the immense beauty of Nigerian poetry. They include Adumaradan by Niyi Osundare; Cold Earth by Odia Ofeimun; The Minstrel with a Postcolonial Goatskin Bag by Ezenwa Ohaeto; Iva Valley by Ifi Amadiume; Sequence (Of desire) by Jumoke Verissimo and Homeland by Ogaga Ifowodo.”In the last two years, he has translated works of 40 Nigerian poets. He hopes to publish the translation in an anthology once he captures about 10 more. He has published some of the translated items in Turkish magazines.

Tunc notes, “I started my translation work with the leading poets such as Christopher Okigbo, Gabriel Okara, Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ben Okri, Ofeimun, Niyi Osundare, J.P Clark, Tanure Ojaide and Harry Garuba. These poets made a good impression on Turkish readers. Surely, I say that a large group of readers who look forward to reading the poems by Nigerian poets has appeared in Turkey.

“There are many poets who I’m working on nowadays. Some of them are Femi Fatoba, Femi Osofisan, Ogaga Ifowodo, Maik Nwosu, Unoma Azuah, Remi Raji, Sola Osofisan and Promise Okekwe. Being a modernist poet, that is to say, writing in western style, is a prerequisite for being included in my work. Secondly, being born after 1921 is another criterion. Being a published poet, getting an incredible poetry prize, and positive comments on their poetry in literary magazines are my other parameters. I also make much of the impression of the oral tradition on modern Nigerian poetry. As for the selection of the poems to be translated, it is my own preference or liking among the ones which I read.”

Reluctantly attempting a comparison between Nigerian and Turkish poetry, he explains that nature is the most preferred theme in African poetry. There is a vast number of poems thematically concerned with rivers, valleys, mountains etc. Religious ceremonies and rituals are also recurrent. Some African poets perform their poems in a theatrical way on the scene, which is called performance poetry. But reading poems in public in Turkey isn’t as common as in Africa.

In this point, we can say that Turkish poetry is more individual than African poetry. Also, Turkish poets of today use words in ‘emotional associations,’ and write more abstractly than the poets in Africa.

And it is this observation that he premises his suggestion for thematic diversification on the part of Nigerian poets.

“I’m not a critic, so I may go wrong,” he says. “From my perspective, Nigerian poetry of today is narrative, but needs being more inventive and individual. Thematically, the poet inside mostly prefers the love of country and nature, while the poet abroad writes the political and social ills of today. In fact, everything can be material for poetry. But the poet should write about loneliness, famine, friendship, sex, poverty, loyalty, madness, drunkenness, freedom and jealousy too.”

Tunc began writing in the 1970s, with his first poems published in a literary magazine called Yeni Defne in 1977. But then followed a long silence that he eventually broke in 1992 when he published his first collection of poems, Kis Bir Alkis Mydi (The Last Applause in Winter). The poet who has earned several awards that include the Ali Riza Ertan Poetry Award and Ceyhun Atuf Kansu Poetry Award is now widely published. Some of his poems have been translated into English, French and Afrikaans language.

Tunc’s other published collections include Kül ve Kopus (Ash and Ending), Fetus Günlügü (Diary of a Foetus), Sesler Incelikler (We Spoke of Sand) and Karnaval (Carnival), which was published last year.

And what usually inspires Tunc? “The poet must stretch all the feelers towards the nature and the society,” he explains. “He or she must be aware of the happenings all around, and look for the sources of inspiration for his poetry. If you’re not a good observer, you can’t be a good poet.

Realising something you never know before can lead you to write a new poem. I don’t believe that inspiration is a heavenly power. Everything occurs in our brain. Actually, you can write the poem of the thing you focus on. What stirs you mentally, socially, and economically will certainly inspire you.

Writing poems is releasing the poet of the state which disturbs him or her. In a sense, it is a kind of catharsis. So, the poet should often listen to his inner voice. If inevitably spoken of an inspiration, life is the most indispensable material for my creative activity of writing.”

His intimate engagement of Nigerian poetry, he believes, is likely to positively affect his writings in in future, because, according to him, a good poem should be a source of inspiration for writing another one.

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kumdan konuştuk

 

         kumdan konuştuk…

kırdık deniz kabuklarının sır vermezliğini; batık kentlerden, kırık amforalardan, derinlerdeki kıpırtılardan konuştuk… kumdan; dağılıp giden inceliklerden, çıplak ayak izlerinden… unutmadık ahşap iskeleleri, ölgün fenerleri, paslı demirleri… unutmadık suya düşen ay tanelerini, zühre yıldızını, gecenin görkemli sevgisini, daha başka şeyleri de…

çünkü şarabın iyiliği vardı, aşkların eskimezliği, yunusların bilgeliği… dedik, madem ki çözüldü çıma, mademki yitirdik yekesini günlerin, konuşalım…

         konuştuk…          

derisi dikenlilere, lapinalara, ahtapotlara değinmedik hiç… es geçtik yengecin yanlışlığını, yosunun sorumsuzluğunu, kıyıya vuran dalgınlığını medüzün, es geçtik çakıl taşlarını, katran lekelerini, yanık mazot kokularını… şaşkın bir mürekkep balığı takılmıştı ağımıza; biz yalnızca konuşuyorduk…

         ince şeylerden…

         kumdan…

İlyas Tunç

‘Sesler İncelikler’ adlı kitabından
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we spoke of sand

 

          we spoke of sand…

 

we broke the resistance of shells. we spoke of sunken cities, 

broken amphoras, past loves… of sand. we spoke of kindnesses 

fallen into oblivion, barefoot prints... we didn’t forget wooden 

piers, dead hurricane lamps, rusted anchors… we included flecks 

of moonlight reflecting on the sea. we spoke of Venus, of the 

glorious love of the night, and other things…

 

for the wine had a goodness, the love was ageless, the dolphin 

embodied wisdom… now that the hawser had beed untied, now that 

we had redirected the rudder of our days, we said let’s talk…

         so we talked …

 

we didn’t refer to brilliantly striped fish, or octopi, or 

starfish… we overlooked the faults of crabs, the flightiness of 

algae, the deep sleep of jellyfish on the sand… we passed over 

pebbles, tar stains, the smell of burnt oil… a surprised squid 

was caught in our net, but we were 

only speaking…

 

         of delicate things,

         of sand…

 

İlyas Tunç

Translated from Turkish by the poet and Robert Berold

 

Mouse Poetry Magazine,July 2009, issue:5

(Zhejiang University, China)

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kış güneşi

 

güneşi bekliyoruz, dedi

çatıdan sarkan buz sarkıtının

içinden kırılgan bir ses

 

insan da su gibi

yoğun kalabalıktan akar

döner aslına

ama, bir farkla

buz güneşi bekler

insan gölgeyi…

 

yine de korkutuyor beni

ısınmak için birbirine sokulmuş

bu saydam damlalar

tepemdeki hançerler…

 

uzun sürecekmiş kış

sığınacak saçak altı kalmadı

dağıldı az önceki kalabalık

yaşar mıyım biraz daha

içimdeki zenginliği

kanatları gölge veren

bir iyilik meleği

bulur muyum

 

kış güneşi! kış güneşi!

doldur pilini kalbimin

 

İlyas Tunç

Eylül 2010, Sinop

 

Akatalpa Şiir ve Eleştiri Dergisi

Kasım 2010, sayı: 131
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portakal çiçeği

 

inandım portakal çiçeklerine

başucuma koyduğum yalan

büyüsün diye benimle

 

ama, dünya!

alışamadım hâlâ

sert iklimine

 

giyiyorum iyiliğin uzun paltosunu

merhametin eldivenini takıyorum

ufacık bir kartopu sıcaklığı

edinemiyorum yine de

 

kara bir delik yutacakmış seni

yutsun varsın!

meteorlar çarpacakmış yüzüne

çarpsın!

 

komik bir lunapark masalı

anlatıp gelseydim keşke

Darfurlu çocuk askere

 

tüyleri damla damla

bir sokak kedisine

kışlık bir çizme

alabilseydim

 

ama, dünya!

rüzgârlar iyi gelmiyor

portakal çiçeğine

 

İlyas Tunç

Ekim 2010, Sinop

 

Eliz Edebiyat Dergisi

Kasım 2010, sayı: 23
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seagull shit

I opened the window in the morning and saw it
seagull shit on the sill
waiting for the sun to rise up
sweetheart! my beautiful country!
I’m frightened of
your dark waters
 
it’s me! a tiny fish
from Ordu or Sinop
I can’t struggle with
big, carrion beaks
 
my beautiful country! I’m scared
as your wipers never leave a trace
and they work day-and-night
 
here! that seagull shit!
acidic sticky mucous
of those who love you more than me!
they will chisel the granite base
and lie down under the wicked sun
 
the handkerchief of pureness is leaning out my breast pocket
your kids who learn in dirt say
I’m a blind man in this trick
whatever I touch is a trap
wherever I step is a cliff
sweetheart! my beautiful country!
seagulls are crying over my head
I’m afraid
 
İlyas Tunç
translated from Turkish by the poet
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the cynic

 

This is the age of blood and pus; the age of the spectacle, of disgusting images, of  plastic surgeons selling repairs ! Of larvas, amoebas, asexual reproductions ! Of sperm banks, orgasms from pharmaceuticals!.

            Hey ! Human beings, anthropoids!  Listen to my voice from another age.

Lambs are babies! Don’t behead them, please ! But you have slaughtered them for your feasts and your gods, broken their bones and sucked their marrows… You have made laws for your benefit alone…You have hygienic tissues, refined tastes, silk shirts and white underpants…

I went into the Lonca gate, the entrance of Sinop Castle, and walked around the fairground and the market, the embezzlers, the pawnbrokers, the thick-headed… I climbed up to the hilltop and shouted down:

            Hey, cynics! Where are you?

            Diogenes is long dead. I don’t have a barrel, and my lantern has gone out. But I leave you shadows, and everything that is beautiful. I didn’t have my unwanted hair plucked, the wrinkles of my skin ironed, or my breasts tightened with silicon. I stripped naked, gave myself to the water, to the Karakum beach, to the sun and the odour of blackberries…

           You paid a quarter to look, and laughed your heads off…

I went out of the Lonca Gate, and walked to the lighthouse in Inceburun. Weeds, bugs, tortoises, porcupines…a sea-snail stared at me and I whispered:

            I’m a Sinopian, Tarzan Kemal.

            Someone among you.

İlyas Tunç

Translated by the poet and Robert Berold

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Van sand het ons gepraat

Van sand het ons gepraat oor sand het ons gesels … ons het die weerstand van skulpe...

Selling Nigerian poets in Turkish market

Selling Nigerian poets in Turkish market By AKEEM LASISI Tuesday, 25 Jan 2011, The Punc...

kumdan konuştuk

           kumdan konuştuk… kırdık deniz kabuklarının sır...

we spoke of sand

            we spoke of sand…   we broke the resistance of...

kış güneşi

  güneşi bekliyoruz, dedi çatıdan sarkan buz sarkıtının içinden...

portakal çiçeği

  inandım portakal çiçeklerine başucuma koyduğum yalan büyüsün diye...

seagull shit

I opened the window in the morning and saw it seagull shit on the sill waiting for the...

the cynic

  This is the age of blood and pus; the age of the spectacle, of disgusting images, of ...