By the time this post goes up I’ll be out in the sticks with my parents, with no Internet, cellphone or cable, jumping in day one of the Mighty Bell challenge I signed up for at least two months ago: GO TO THE WORLD. I’m there already and managing to survive it, I’ve packed my favorite books to go!
And I wanted to introduce you to this remarkable man who cut Turkish literature open and changed Turkish poetry forever: Nâzım Hikmet. (I was born on his date of death, fifteen years after he passed. I have a thing with Turkish poetry, you know.)
I was born in 1902
I never once went back to my birthplace
I don't like to turn back
at three I served as a pasha's grandson in Aleppo
at nineteen as a student at Moscow Communist University
at forty-nine I was back in Moscow as the Tcheka Party's guest
and I've been a poet since I was fourteen
some people know all about plants some about fish
I know separation
some people know the names of the stars by heart
I recite absences
I've slept in prisons and in grand hotels
I've known hunger even a hunger strike and there's almost no food
I haven't tasted
at thirty they wanted to hang me
at forty-eight to give me the Peace Prize
which they did. (unabridged poem: 'Autobiography')
(available on amazon.com)
Nâzım Hikmet wrote his first poem at the age of 11 in 1913. In his early years, he chose to write in the syllabic meter. But he later started writing in free verse, because he found the syllabic verse was too limited for him to express his message. His early work was heavily influenced by the Soviet poets usage of futurism, or "word autonomy".
Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example--
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation. (unabridged poem: 'On living')
He was a Communist and his concern with social issues is a common theme in his poetry. He spent 13 years in jail and other 13 years in exile, dying in Moscow in 1963 after having been stripped of his Turkish citizenship. In prison as well as in exile he is inclined toward phenomenological celebration, he is in love with life and its complexity, beauty and horror.
(in Bursa Cezaevi'nde )
Since I've been in jail
the world has turned around the sun ten times
And if you ask the earth, it will say:
'It's not worth mentioning,
a microscopic time.'
And if you ask me, I will say:
'It's ten years of my life.'
I had a pencil
the year I came to jail.
It wore out in a week from writing.
And if you ask the pencil, it will say:
'A whole life.'
And if you ask me, I will say:
'It's nothing, a mere week.' (unabridged poem: 'Since I've been in jail')
In many of his poems he also explored themes of personal loss and separation in a prosopopeia with a longed-for but absent wife (he married three times. There are mentions to the wives all through his poems.)
(Nâzım and his first wife Piraye'nin)
Want to die before you.
Do you think the one who follows
Finds the one who went first?
I don’t think so.
It would be best to have me burned
And put in a jar
Over your fireplace.
Make the jar
So you can watch me inside…
CHALLENGE: Write a futuristic poem. Simple, isn't it? Link your poem, leave a comment and provide a link in your blog to Real Toads. I promise to visit you guys when I'm back on Sunday.