A celebration of women’s poetry for International Women’s Day 2017

Featured image from “The Infinite Body Of Sensation” by Salma Caller

 

salmacallerSalma Ahmad Caller is an artist and a hybrid of cultures and faiths. She is drawn to hybrid and ornamental forms, and to how the body expresses itself in the mind to create an embodied ‘image’. UK based, she was born in Iraq to an Egyptian father and a British mother and grew up in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. With a background in art history and theory, medicine and pharmacology, and several years teaching cross-cultural ways of seeing via non-Western artefacts at Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, she now works as an independent artist and teacher.

salma caller artists statement [PDF]

“In the Glass Coffin” by Kim Myeong-sun

Today, I withstood agony again,
Because my life is still lingering,
Trapped in scarcely visible sorrow.
If my body is trapped
Like the life of a dinky, dinky thing,
What is with all this sorrow, this pain?
Like the bygone prince,
Who had loved the forbidden woman,
I believed I would live if I danced in the glass coffin;
I heard I would live with joy
Even in this dim sorrow,
If I worked, studied, and loved.
And so I have lived in this untrustworthy world.
Now, what shall I do with this suffocating feeling
That is burgeoning in this scarcely visible sorrow?
Stupid I! Stupid I!

In The Glass Coffin by © Kim Myeong-sun, these translations are © Sean Jido Ahn

.
2016102000105_0Kim Myeong-sun was born in 1896 in Pyongyang, Korea. She debuted in 1917 when her short story A Girl in Doubt appeared in Youth [Chungchun]. In 1919, while she was studying abroad in Tokyo, she joined Korea’s first literary circle Creation [Changjo], which is reputed as the harbinger of modern Korean literary style. She published her first book of poems The Fruit of Life in 1925, which is also the first book of poems published by a Korean woman. Kim was known as quinti-lingual, and she introduced works of Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire to Korean readers for the first time.

Along with a literary movement, Kim was also a central figure in feminism movement of her time. She argued that the world would achieve peace rather than war if women could play a major role in sociopolitics. Moreover, she openly supported free love, and her practice of free love subjected Kim to severe criticism. The fact she was a date rape victim and a daughter of a courtesan hardened the criticism, even among the writers who were close to her. After she fled to Tokyo in 1939, her mental health exacerbated due to extreme financial hardship, failed relationship, and ongoing criticism, and Kim spent rest of her life in Aoyama psychiatric hospital in Tokyo. While her year of death is known to be 1951, this date is not officially verified.

A note about the translator

Sean Jido Ahn is a literature student and a translator residing in Massachusetts, USA. His main focus is Korean to English translation, and he has translated a documentary, interviews, journal articles, and literary pieces. Currently, he runs a poetry translation blog AhnTranslation and plans to publish the first edition of a literary translation quarterly for Korean literature in fall 2017.

“Closet” by Lisa Lowther

Ivory Solid Wooden door –
Unbreakable
Shining gold handle
Protected by two
One on either side
Admittance – Speaks quietly
The other will decide
As you attempt to open
Not just anyone is welcome

White Backless gowns
On shining skin
Chiffon, Encrusted diamonds
Heels that can match any
Elegant Masquerade masks
Green eyes of foreign waters
Pearls, bright & round as the moon
Reflected
To only the celebrant

By Invitation – The other
Vintage lace
Some roses too
For Your entrance
Not an exit of mine, this time
Do close the door on leaving
The two shall rest awhile
A little like my own

Even I did not feel invited into this poem

Closet is © Lisa Lowther
.
Lisa Lowther lives in Cork City. She is a mother to one daughter. She has written poetry intermittently and increasingly over the years, previously not submitting any of her work. She has a passion for reciting poetry as well as reading. She holds a Business qualification & has previously worked in the University College of Cork for a number of years as well as other companies within the Business sector. She subsequently trained in sexual health and was involved in the promoting of sex education on various topics including sexuality awareness. This is Lisa’s first published work. She is presently dedicating time to her love of writing poetry and she is working on her first collection.

I. Am. Straight. Are You ? & other poems by Lisa Lowther

“Faoi Ghlas” by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Faoi Ghlas 

Tá sí faoi ghlas ann          fós, sa teach          tréigthe, 
cé go bhfuil          aigéin idir í          agus an teach 
	a d’fhág sí          ina diaidh. 

I mbrat uaine          a cuid cniotála,          samhlaíonn sí 
	sraitheanna, ciseal glasa          péinte 
ag scamhadh ón mballa          sa teach inar chaith sí — 

	— inar chas sí          eochair, blianta
ó shin,          an teach atá          fós ag fanacht uirthi, 
	ag amharc          amach thar an bhfarraige mhór. 

Tá an eochair ar shlabhra          aici, crochta óna muineál 
	agus filleann sí          ann, scaití,          nuair 
a mhothaíonn sí          cloíte.          Lámh léi 

ar eochair an tslabhra, dúnann sí         a súile agus samhlaíonn 
	sí an teach úd          cois cladaigh, an dath céanna 
lena cuid olla cniotála, na ballaí          gorm-ghlas, 

teach          tógtha ón uisce,          teach tógtha       as uisce 
	agus an radharc          ann: 
citeal ag crónán,          gal scaipthe,          scaoilte 

ó fhuinneog an pharlúis, na toir          i mbladhm, 
	tinte ag scaipeadh          ar an aiteann 
agus éan ceoil a máthair ag portaireacht          ina chliabhán, 

ach cuireann na smaointe sin ceangal          ar a cliabhrach 
	agus filleann sí arís          ar a seomra néata, ar lá néata 
eile           sa teach 

altranais,          teanga na mbanaltraí dearmadta          aici, 
	seachas please agus please agus please, 
tá sí cinnte de          nach          dtuigeann siad          cumha

	ná tonnta ná glas. Timpeall a muiníl, 
ualach          an eochair          do doras a shamhlaíonn         sí 
faoi ghlas fós, ach          ní aontaíonn an eochair          sin 

leis an nglas níos mó     tá an chomhla dá hinsí     i ngan fhios di 
	an tinteán líonta          le brosna          préacháin 
fós, fáisceann sí an chniotáil          chuig a croí 

ansin baineann sí dá dealgáin          í, á roiseadh go mall arís, 
arís, na línte scaoilte          ina ceann          agus ina gceann 
	snáth roiste:          gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas

gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas          amhail cuilithíní 
	cois cladaigh      nó roiseanna farraige móire.     Sracann sí 
go dtí go bhfuil sí          féin          faoi 

ghlas         le snáth         á chlúdach         ó mhuineál go hucht. 
	Ansin,      ceanglaíonn sí      snaidhm úr, snaidhm      docht, 
ardaíonn sí na dealgáin          agus tosaíonn sí          arís.


                              ∇

	Under Lock and Green

She is locked there 	still, in the empty 	house, 	
despite 	   	 the ocean between her	and this house, 
	the one	she left 		behind her.

In the green sweep 	of her knitting	 she imagines
	layers, green layers			of paint
a wall peeling 		in the house where she spent –

– where she turned 		a key, years
	ago, before, 	the house that is 	still waiting for her
gazing 			over a vast ocean.

She wears the key on a chain 	that hangs at her throat
	and she returns 		there, sometimes, 	when 
she feels 	weak.		With one hand

over that chained key, she closes 	her eyes and daydreams
	that house 	by the beach, the same colour
as her wool, the walls 		blue-green, 

a house		from water, a house 	of water
	and the view 	there:
a fretting kettle, 	its steam loose, 		leaving

through the parlour window, where the furze is 		aflame,
	fires swelling 		through the gorse,
and her mother’s songbird chirping 		in its cage,

but thoughts like these bind 	her chest too tightly
so she lets go, and returns  	to this neat little room, this neat little day
another		in this home

this home for the elderly	where she forgot the nurses’ words years ago
	except please 	and please 		and please, and she’s certain
that they		understand neither cumha 		

	nor tonnta 	nor the glas		at her throat,
the weight of a key	   for a door 	she imagines	
	still locked, but 		the key won’t slot 

into her remembered lock the door has fallen from its hinges in her absence 
	the hearth fills			with the kindling of crows
still, she nestles her knitting 	in near her heart

then lifts it from the needles, 		unravels it slowly again,
again, the lines released		one		by one
	unravelled, the thread:		blue-green blue-green blue-green 

blue-green blue-green blue-green 		like little ripples 
	scribbling on the shore 		or immense ripping oceans. She tears
until 		she is		under

lock and green again, 	with wool 	covering her	neck and chest.
	Then, 	a breath, and then,		she ties	a new knot,
lifts the needles 			and begins 		again.
doireann-bwDoireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual writer working both in Irish and English. Among her awards are the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Michael Hartnett Prize, and the Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary. She frequently participates in cross-disciplinary collaborations, fusing poetry with film, dance, music, and visual art. Doireann’s writing has appeared widely, including in The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner, The Stinging Fly, and Poetry, and has been translated into many languages, most recently to French, Greek, Dutch, Macedonian, Gujarati, and English. Recent or forthcoming commissions include work for The Poetry Society (UK), RTÉ Radio 1, Cork City Council & Libraries, The Arts Council/Crash Ensemble, and UCC. Her most recent book is Oighear (Coiscéim, 2017)

faoi-ghlas-le-doireann-ni-ghriofa-1

“Rajm” by Müesser Yeniay

Rajm

Outside is night
inside is separation

this must be the last day
of the world 
          -I think of him-

love ends (…)

the heart 
remains as a woman who was stoned to death
in the middle of reality

my heart is the biggest
stone that God threw 
at me

© Müesser Yeniay, translated into english by Müesser Yeniay

muesserMÜESSER YENİAY was born in İzmir, 1984; she graduated from Ege University, with a degree in English Language and Literature. She took her M.A on Turkish Literature at Bilkent University. She has won several prizes in Turkey including Yunus Emre (2006), Homeros Attila İlhan (2007), Ali Riza Ertan (2009), Enver Gökçe (2013) poetry prizes. She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Muse Pie Press in USA. Her first book Darkness Also Falls Ground was published in 2009 and her second book I Founded My Home in the Mountains a collection of translation from world poetry. Her second poetry book I Drew the Sky Again was published in 2011. She has translated the poems of Persian poet Behruz Kia as Requiem to Tulips. She has translated the Selected Poems of Gerard Augustin together with Eray Canberk, Başak Aydınalp, Metin Cengiz (2011). She has also translated the Personal Anthology of Michel Cassir together with Eray Canberk and Metin Cengiz (2011). Lately, she has published a Contemporary Spanish Anthology with Metin Cengiz and Jaime B. Rosa. She also translated the poetry of Israeli poet Ronny Someck (2014) and Hungarian poet Attila F. Balazs (2015). She has published a book on modern Turkish Avant-garde poetry The Other Consciousness: Surrealism and The Second New (2013). Her latest poetry book Before Me There Were Deserts was published in 2014 in İstanbul. Her poems were published in Hungarian by AB-Art Press by the name A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa (2015).
Her poems have appeared in the following magazines abroad: Actualitatea Literară (Romania), The Voices Project, The Bakery, Sentinel Poetry, Yellow Medicine Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poesy, Shampoo, Los Angeles Review of Books, Apalachee Review (USA & England); Kritya, Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Casa Della Poesia, Libere Luci, I poeti di Europe in Versi e il lago di Como (Italy); Poeticanet, Poiein (Greece); Revue Ayna, Souffle, L’oiseau de feu du Garlaban (France); Al Doha (Qatar); Poethead (Ireland)Tema (Croatia); Dargah (Persia).
The Anthologies her poetry appeared: With Our Eyes Wide Open; Aspiring to Inspire, 2014 Women Writers Anthology; 2014 Poetry Anthology- Words of Fire and Ice (USA) Poesia Contemporanea de la Republica de Turquie (Spain); Voix Vives de Mediterranee en Mediterranee, Anthologie Sete 2013 ve Poetique Insurrection 2015 (France); One Yet Many- The Cadence of Diversity ve ayrıca Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Come Cerchi Sull’acqua (Italy).
Her poems have been translated into Vietnamese, Hungarian, Croatian, English, Persian, French, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Hindi, Spanish and Romanian. Her book in Hungarian was published in 2015 by AB-Art Publishing by the name A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa She has participated in the poetry festivals like Sarajevo International Poetry Festival, September 2010 (Bosnia-Herzegovina); Nisan International Poetry Festival, May 2011 (Israel); Belgrad International Poetry Festival, September 2012 (Serbia); Voix Vives International Poetry Festival (Sete), July 2013 (France); Kritya International Poetry Festival, September 2013 (India), Galati/Antares International Poetry Festival, June 2014 (Romania), Medellin International Poetry Festival, July 2014 (Colombia); 2nd Asia Pacific Poetry Festival 2015 (Vietnam).
Müesser is the editor of the literature magazine Şiirden (of Poetry). She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Turkish literature at Bilkent University, Ankara, and is also a member of PEN and the Writers Syndicate of Turkey. 

Three Poems by Müesser Yeniay
An Index of Women Poets

“We did not choose the sea” by Philo Ikonya

philo 6.1.2014

When we found them washed ashore
they were barely alive but still breathing
We spoke for the voiceless they
said, many times, and now speak to us
and for us and with us share this breath

We shuddered at life’s turns and twists
when the madding crowd kicked them hard
They slave them again, they do, their voices
deadly drilling the stones so alone intone

downloadPhilo Ikonya is a writer, lecturer and human rights activist. She is the President of PEN Kenya. She taught semiotics at Tangaza College and Spanish at the United States International University in Nairobi. She graduated in Literature and Linguistics (The University of Nairobi) before reading philosophy in Spain and Italy. She worked as an editor for Oxford University Press (Eastern Africa). Born in Kenya, Philo speaks Kiswahili, Gikuyu, English, Spanish and some Norsk. She has a grasp of Italian and French. Philo is a mother of one. She is currently living in exile in Norway.

Her fiction includes two novels, Leading the Night and Kenya, will you marry me? She has published three poetry anthologies including: This Bread of Peace, (Lapwing) Belfast, Ireland, and Out of Prison- Love Songs translated into German (Aus dem Gefangnis Liebesgesange). Philo is a Pan-Africanist.

“Pomegranate” and other poems by Kim Myeong-sun translated by Sean Jido Ahn

Pomegranate

In autumn, even a tree sheds jewels on the street.
A deeply buried heart may be fetching like this.
Around this time,
A bird shall pilot the life of a fragrant tree,
Crossing the river with a seed in its beak,
Passing the field of silvergrass on a mountain.
My shallow roots,
Which were swayed by no more than rain and wind,
Have you ever borne a piece of ruby hot as blood?
Without a jewel to pass on to a bird or a wind,
I pass in front of a pomegranate tree.
Whether I love or hate,
Life merely flows.
Toward where is life—an initiation ceremony—leading to?
The heart too red to believe in an afterlife,
The heart pecked by the bird!

A Will

Joseon*, when I part from you,
Whether you knock me down by a creek
Or yank my blood in the field,
Abuse me more, even my dead corpse.
If this is still not enough,
Then abuse her as much as you can
When someone like me is born henceforth.
Then we, who despise each other, will be parted forever.
Oh, you ferocious place, you ferocious place.

*Joseon (1392-1897) was a dynasty in Korea that preceded the Korean Empire (1897-1910). Even after the fall of the dynasty, its name was frequently used to refer to Korean peninsula.

Battle

There was an old soldier
Who plowed a field with his weapon
For he was injured all over from long battles
And thus hated fighting in battles.

But the furrows were unyielding
And the landlord was vicious,
So there was no harvest
Even after sowing and weeding.

So, one day, the old soldier,
Was paralyzed in sleep like a shooting rifle,
Stifled by heavy thoughts.

Oh, how strange—this soldier,
While sleeping after dumping his weapon,
Died with bruises all over his body
As if he fought in his dream.

People turned their heads.
There are battles whether you are awake or asleep,
So being alive and dead must be the same.
Saying so, each of them tensed both arms.

In the Glass Coffin

Today, I withstood agony again,
Because my life is still lingering,
Trapped in scarcely visible sorrow.
If my body is trapped
Like the life of a dinky, dinky thing,
What is with all this sorrow, this pain?
Like the bygone prince,
Who had loved the forbidden woman,
I believed I would live if I danced in the glass coffin;
I heard I would live with joy
Even in this dim sorrow,
If I worked, studied, and loved.
And so I have lived in this untrustworthy world.
Now, what shall I do with this suffocating feeling
That is burgeoning in this scarcely visible sorrow?
Stupid I! Stupid I!

Pomegranate & other poems are © Kim Myeong-sun, these translations are © Sean Jido Ahn

2016102000105_0Kim Myeong-sun was born in 1896 in Pyongyang, Korea. She debuted in 1917 when her short story A Girl in Doubt appeared in Youth [Chungchun]. In 1919, while she was studying abroad in Tokyo, she joined Korea’s first literary circle Creation [Changjo], which is reputed as the harbinger of modern Korean literary style. She published her first book of poems The Fruit of Life in 1925, which is also the first book of poems published by a Korean woman. Kim was known as quinti-lingual, and she introduced works of Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire to Korean readers for the first time.

Along with a literary movement, Kim was also a central figure in feminism movement of her time. She argued that the world would achieve peace rather than war if women could play a major role in sociopolitics. Moreover, she openly supported free love, and her practice of free love subjected Kim to severe criticism. The fact she was a date rape victim and a daughter of a courtesan hardened the criticism, even among the writers who were close to her. After she fled to Tokyo in 1939, her mental health exacerbated due to extreme financial hardship, failed relationship, and ongoing criticism, and Kim spent rest of her life in Aoyama psychiatric hospital in Tokyo. While her year of death is known to be 1951, this date is not officially verified.

A note about the translator

Sean Jido Ahn is a literature student and a translator residing in Massachusetts, USA. His main focus is Korean to English translation, and he has translated a documentary, interviews, journal articles, and literary pieces. Currently, he runs a poetry translation blog AhnTranslation  and plans to publish the first edition of a literary translation quarterly for Korean literature in fall 2017.

“Foraois Bháistí” agus dánta eile le Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Foraois Bháistí

 
I mbreacsholas na maidine, leagaim uaim an scuab
nuair a aimsím radharc nach bhfacthas cheana
 
ag dealramh ar an mballa: fuinneog úr snoite as solas,
líonta le duilleog-dhamhsa. Múnlaíonn géaga crainn
 
lasmuigh na gathanna gréine d’fhonn cruthanna dubha
a chur ag damhsa ar an mballa fúthu, an duilliúr ina chlúmh
 
tiubh glas, an solas ag síothlú is ag rince tríothu.
Fuinneog dhearmadta ar dhomhain eile atá ann, áit agus am
 
caillte i gcroí na Brasaíle, áit a shamhlaím fear ag breathnú
ar urlár na foraoise, ar an mbreacscáth ann, faoi dhraíocht
 
ag imeartas scáile, dearmad déanta aige ar an léarscáil,
ar an bpár atá ag claochlú ina lámh: bánaithe anois,
 
gan rian pinn air níos mó, gan ach bearna tobann
ag leá amach roimhe. Airíonn sé coiscéim
 
agus breathnaíonn sé siar thar a ghualainn,
mar a bhreathnaímse thar mo ghualainn anois,
 
ach ní fheiceann ceachtar againn éinne.
Níl éinne ann.
 

Rainforest

 
In morning’s piebald light. I set aside my duster
on finding a view I’ve never noticed before
 
surfacing on the wall, a new window, sunlight-snipped,
filled with shadow-twist and leaf-flit. Branches shape
 
the sunlight from outside, sculpting dark forms
and setting them dancing on the wall, green-furred with foliage,
 
light swaying and simmering through. I watch it become
a window to some other world, a time and place forgotten,
 
lost in a Brazilian forest, where I imagine a man stands, gazing
at the forest floor, at the reflected speckle-shadow, enthralled
 
by the play of shade he sees there, and he is forgetting his map,
the parchment that is swiftly transforming in his hand, emptying
 
itself now, until no trace of a pen remains and a sudden void
stretches before him. He hears a footstep and his breath quickens,
 
a gasp, a fast-glance back over his shoulder,
as I glance over my shoulder now, too,
 
but neither of us see anyone.
No one is there.
 

(Don Té a Deir nach bhfuil Gá le Bronntanas i mBliana)

 
Tosaím i gcroí na Samhna. Cíoraim gach seilf,
gach siopa, gach suíomh idirlíon. Caithim laethanta
fada ag cuardach fuinneoga na cathrach ach fós,
ní thagaim ar an bhféirín cuí.
 
Tagann agus imíonn na seachtainí. Táim ar tí
éirí as, in ísle brí, go dtí go ndúisíonn glór na gaoithe
i lár na hoíche mé, freagra na faidhbe aici.
Tabharfaidh mé boladh na báistí duit, a chroí.
 
Meán oíche. Siúlaim síos staighre ar bharraicíní
chun múnlán oighir a leagan ar leac fuinneoige.
Oíche beo le báisteach atá romham,
díle bháistí á scaoileadh sa ghairdín.
 
Amach liom, cosnochta faoin mbáisteach.
Bailíonn braonta na hoíche isteach sa phlaisteach,
seomraí beaga bána ag borradh le huiscí suaite
na spéire tite, dromchla gach ciúb ar crith le scáil
 
na scamall tharstu, agus ina measc, blúirí den spéir
réaltbhreac. Ritheann creatha fuachta tríom agus fillim
ar an tigh, rian coise fliucha fágtha i mo dhiaidh.
Sa reoiteoir, iompóidh an bháisteach ghafa ina hoighear.
 
Cruafaidh scáileanna réalta ann, claochlú ciúin, fuar.
B’fhéidir nach n-inseoidh mé an scéal seo duit riamh.
I ngan fhios duit, ar iarnóin Nollag, b’fhéidir
go líonfaidh mé gloine leis an oighear ar do shon,
 
féirín uaim, cuimhneachán d’oíche nach bhfaca tú,
nuair a d’éalaíos uait, chun braonta agus réalta
a bhailiú duit. I ngloine, sínfidh mé féirín dúbailte
chugat – boladh na báistí agus luas a titime araon.
 
Scaoilfidh mé braon ar bhraon le titim tríot,
báisteach na hoíche ag stealladh ionat, á slogadh
scornach go bolg, titim réaltbhreac tobann.
Bronntanas.
 

(For One who Says that No Gift is Needed this Year)

 
I begin in November, and search every shelf,
every shop, every website. So many afternoons,
spent peering through windows, and still
I can’t find a gift for you.
 
Weeks come, weeks go, and I become glum,
I begin to think that I’ll have to give up. But tonight,
the wind’s voice wakes me and her answer is clear.
I will capture the smell of rain for you, my dear.
 
At midnight, I tiptoe downstairs
to place a plastic tray on the windowsill
and find the night alive with rain,
a flood-fall spinning in the garden.
 
Barefoot, the rain lurching around me, I watch
drops rush into the plastic cubes until all
the small white rooms brim with storm-waters;
between surface reflections of cloud,
 
slivers of a vast dark speckled with stars.
Shivering, I turn back home, drizzling damp
footprints after me. In the freezer,
this captured rain will turn to ice.
 
Stars will harden and take hold in a transformation
both silent and cold. Maybe I won’t tell you.
Maybe on a Christmas afternoon, I’ll just
fill your glass with these ice cubes, a silent gift
 
from me to you, souvenir of a night you never knew,
when I crept out to catch rain and stars and parcel them
in ice for you. When I hand you a glass it’ll be a twin present –
both the scent of rain, and the velocity of a fall.
 
The drops will plunge again, a night-rain
moving inside you, gullet
to gut, a sudden, star-dappled plummet.
A gift.
 
Foraois Bháistí agus dánta eile le Doireann Ní Ghríofa & english translations by the poet
 

Faoi Ghlas 

Tá sí faoi ghlas ann          fós, sa teach          tréigthe, 
cé go bhfuil          aigéin idir í          agus an teach 
	a d’fhág sí          ina diaidh. 

I mbrat uaine          a cuid cniotála,          samhlaíonn sí 
	sraitheanna, ciseal glasa          péinte 
ag scamhadh ón mballa          sa teach inar chaith sí — 

	— inar chas sí          eochair, blianta
ó shin,          an teach atá          fós ag fanacht uirthi, 
	ag amharc          amach thar an bhfarraige mhór. 

Tá an eochair ar shlabhra          aici, crochta óna muineál 
	agus filleann sí          ann, scaití,          nuair 
a mhothaíonn sí          cloíte.          Lámh léi 

ar eochair an tslabhra, dúnann sí         a súile agus samhlaíonn 
	sí an teach úd          cois cladaigh, an dath céanna 
lena cuid olla cniotála, na ballaí          gorm-ghlas, 

teach          tógtha ón uisce,          teach tógtha          as uisce 
	agus an radharc          ann: 
citeal ag crónán,          gal scaipthe,          scaoilte 

ó fhuinneog an pharlúis, na toir          i mbladhm, 
	tinte ag scaipeadh          ar an aiteann 
agus éan ceoil a máthair ag portaireacht          ina chliabhán, 

ach cuireann na smaointe sin ceangal          ar a cliabhrach 
	agus filleann sí arís          ar a seomra néata, ar lá néata 
eile           sa teach 

altranais,          teanga na mbanaltraí dearmadta          aici, 
	seachas please agus please agus please, 
tá sí cinnte de          nach          dtuigeann siad          cumha

	ná tonnta ná glas. Timpeall a muiníl, 
ualach          an eochair          do doras a shamhlaíonn          sí 
faoi ghlas fós, ach          ní aontaíonn an eochair          sin 

leis an nglas níos mó     tá an chomhla dá hinsí     i ngan fhios di 
	an tinteán líonta          le brosna          préacháin 
fós, fáisceann sí an chniotáil          chuig a croí 

ansin baineann sí dá dealgáin          í, á roiseadh go mall arís, 
arís, na línte scaoilte          ina ceann          agus ina gceann 
	snáth roiste:          gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas

gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas gorm-ghlas          amhail cuilithíní 
	cois cladaigh      nó roiseanna farraige móire.      Sracann sí 
go dtí go bhfuil sí          féin          faoi 

ghlas         le snáth         á chlúdach         ó mhuineál go hucht. 
	Ansin,      ceanglaíonn sí      snaidhm úr, snaidhm      docht, 
ardaíonn sí na dealgáin          agus tosaíonn sí          arís.


	Under Lock and Green

She is locked there 	still, in the empty 	house, 	
despite 	   	 the ocean between her	and this house, 
	the one	she left 		behind her.

In the green sweep 	of her knitting	 she imagines
	layers, green layers			of paint
a wall peeling 		in the house where she spent –

– where she turned 		a key, years
	ago, before, 	the house that is 	still waiting for her
gazing 			over a vast ocean.

She wears the key on a chain 	that hangs at her throat
	and she returns 		there, sometimes, 	when 
she feels 	weak.		With one hand

over that chained key, she closes 	her eyes and daydreams
	that house 	by the beach, the same colour
as her wool, the walls 		blue-green, 

a house		from water, a house 	of water
	and the view 	there:
a fretting kettle, 	its steam loose, 		leaving

through the parlour window, where the furze is 		aflame,
	fires swelling 		through the gorse,
and her mother’s songbird chirping 		in its cage,

but thoughts like these bind 	her chest too tightly
	so she lets go, and returns  	to this neat little room, this neat little day
another		in this home

this home for the elderly	where she forgot the nurses’ words years ago
	except please 	and please 		and please, and she’s certain
that they		understand neither cumha 		

	nor tonnta 	nor the glas		at her throat,
the weight of a key	   for a door 	she imagines	
	still locked, but 		the key won’t slot 

into her remembered lock	the door has fallen from its hinges	in her absence 
	the hearth fills			with the kindling 	of crows
still, she nestles her knitting 	in near her heart

then lifts it from the needles, 		unravels it slowly again,
again, the lines released		one		by one
	unravelled, the thread:		blue-green blue-green blue-green 

blue-green blue-green blue-green 		like little ripples 
	scribbling on the shore 		or immense ripping oceans. She tears
until 		she is		under

lock and green again, 	with wool 	covering her	neck and chest.
	Then, 	a breath, and then,		she ties		a new knot,
lifts the needles 			and begins 		again.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual writer working both in Irish and English. Among her awards are the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Michael Hartnett Prize, and the Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary. She frequently participates in cross-disciplinary collaborations, fusing poetry with film, dance, music, and visual art. Doireann’s writing has appeared widely, including in The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner, The Stinging Fly, and Poetry, and has been translated into many languages, most recently to French, Greek, Dutch, Macedonian, Gujarati, and English. Recent or forthcoming commissions include work for The Poetry Society (UK), RTÉ Radio 1, Cork City Council & Libraries, The Arts Council/Crash Ensemble, and UCC. Her most recent book is Oighear (Coiscéim, 2017)

.

faoi-ghlas-le-doireann-ni-ghriofa-1

“The Wind of the World” & other poems by Müesser Yeniay


The Wind of the World

           For my grandmother

you are under the earth
I am on the earth

with your body that is tired of carrying
the wind of this world

-a stone in the middle of my heart
has been rolling without stop-

I don't know where you have gone
the only thing which is clear is that 
                            you are not here

The Phenomenology of Writing

Now you are 
        an empty page 
                   inviting

writing 
          –maybe-
                because of lust

just not ready
-your call is on my mind for quite a while-

call me call me
the flow of ink

            is a remedy
for my wounds


Illness

You hit me
like you were punching the wall

woman
isn't your cave
in which whenever you like
you can lie down

you can't climb over her
like a squirrel.

not of his nectar
but of his pee
he lets inside

he loves 
like he shakes a tree

manhood
is a serious illness




Rajm

Outside is night
inside is separation

this must be the last day
of the world 
          -I think of him-

love ends (…)

the heart 
remains as a woman who was stoned to death
in the middle of reality

my heart is the biggest
stone that God threw 
at me
'The Wind Of The World' & other poems are © Müesser Yeniay,
 translated into english by Müesser Yeniay
muesserMÜESSER YENİAY was born in İzmir, 1984; she graduated from Ege University, with a degree in English Language and Literature. She took her M.A on Turkish Literature at Bilkent University. She has won several prizes in Turkey including Yunus Emre (2006), Homeros Attila İlhan (2007), Ali Riza Ertan (2009), Enver Gökçe (2013) poetry prizes. She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Muse Pie Press in USA. Her first book Darkness Also Falls Ground was published in 2009 and her second book I Founded My Home in the Mountains a collection of translation from world poetry. Her second poetry book I Drew the Sky Again was published in 2011. She has translated the poems of Persian poet Behruz Kia as Requiem to Tulips. She has translated the Selected Poems of Gerard Augustin together with Eray Canberk, Başak Aydınalp, Metin Cengiz (2011). She has also translated the Personal Anthology of Michel Cassir together with Eray Canberk and Metin Cengiz (2011). Lately, she has published a Contemporary Spanish Anthology with Metin Cengiz and Jaime B. Rosa. She also translated the poetry of Israeli poet Ronny Someck (2014) and Hungarian poet Attila F. Balazs (2015). She has published a book on modern Turkish Avant-garde poetry The Other Consciousness: Surrealism and The Second New (2013). Her latest poetry book Before Me There Were Deserts was published in 2014 in İstanbul. Her poems were published in Hungarian by AB-Art Press by the name A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa (2015).
Her poems have appeared in the following magazines abroad: Actualitatea Literară (Romania), The Voices Project, The Bakery, Sentinel Poetry, Yellow Medicine Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poesy, Shampoo, Los Angeles Review of Books, Apalachee Review (USA&England); Kritya, Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Casa Della Poesia, Libere Luci, I poeti di Europe in Versi e il lago di Como (Italy); Poeticanet, Poiein (Greece); Revue Ayna, Souffle, L’oiseau de feu du Garlaban (France); Al Doha (Qatar); Tema (Croatia); Dargah (Persia).
The Anthologies her poetry appeared: With Our Eyes Wide Open; Aspiring to Inspire, 2014 Women Writers Anthology; 2014 Poetry Anthology- Words of Fire and Ice (USA) Poesia Contemporanea de la Republica de Turquie (Spain); Voix Vives de Mediterranee en Mediterranee, Anthologie Sete 2013 ve Poetique Insurrection 2015 (France); One Yet Many- The Cadence of Diversity ve ayrıca Shaikshik Dakhal (India); Come Cerchi Sull’acqua (Italy).
Her poems have been translated into Vietnamese, Hungarian, Croatian, English, Persian, French, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Hindi, Spanish and Romanian. Her book in Hungarian was published in 2015 by AB-Art Publishing by the name “A Rozsaszedes Szertartasa” She has participated in the poetry festivals like Sarajevo International Poetry Festival, September 2010 (Bosnia-Herzegovina); Nisan International Poetry Festival, May 2011 (Israel); Belgrad International Poetry Festival, September 2012 (Serbia); Voix Vives International Poetry Festival (Sete), July 2013 (France); Kritya International Poetry Festival, September 2013 (India), Galati/Antares International Poetry Festival, June 2014 (Romania), Medellin International Poetry Festival, July 2014 (Colombia); 2nd Asia Pacific Poetry Festival 2015 (Vietnam).
Müesser is the editor of the literature magazine Şiirden (of Poetry). She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Turkish literature at Bilkent University, Ankara, and is also a member of PEN and the Writers Syndicate of Turkey.

“Woman’s Song” and other poems by Gülten Akın

Poems from What Have You Carried Over?: Poems of 42 Days and Other Works by Gülten Akın, translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne

 

Spring

Oh, no one’s got the time
to stop’n think about fine things

With broad brush-strokes they move along
Sketching homes kids graves onto the world
Some are obviously lost when a rhyme starts up
With one look they shut it all out
And the rhyme enters the night, as fine things do

Some pus in your breasts, some fish, some tears
Sea sea sea you turn into a giant
Evenings your fog creeps up the river-mouths
Raids our hazel-nuts
What to do with their blackening buds
We beg our children: go hungry for a while
We beg the tycoons
Please, one less “Hotel,” one secret marriage less to sketch
Please one less bank, a plea
From us to you and from you to those abroad

We send our wives out to get a manicure, to say
—sir, if you please—
We send our children out to beg
We’re off on our way, our beds entrusted to God
Motorized gypsies of the summer

Oh, no one’s got the time
to stop’n think about fine things

To return to the stream where we first bathed, our fathers’ homes
Passion for the earth, for what it’s being here
We plug our ears: money money money
We pull out the plugs: fight fight squabble
Someone may inquire: quarrel but why
An ever-grinding axe for our neighbor, a fist for our wife
Why the quarrel—we have no idea.

Then in our small town, that prison
We place our eraser before our eyes
With a shove we widen our days
We make room to give thought to our wives
To think about the bloom of the violet passing without us

Even if no one’s got the time
To stop’n think about fine things
Even if the little schoolteachers
Multiply their holidays
And in the name of whatever we hold sacred
Weave blindfolds for our eyes
What’s stored up and sketched will in time
Break into blossom as spring flowers

From across the stream over yonder
Some will whistle, we’ll sound it back.

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne

Summer

It’s back the summer I love
With ants and flies we’ve crept along the earth
With red mullets, bluefish, leafy lettuce and olives
Way past fog-ridden April, depressing rains
Blue on the Black Sea, for kids to rejoice
For poets to rejoice, it’s back the summer I love

We’re in nineteen sixty-eight. We’ve seen the Forties and Fifties
We lived through the Sixties, with political statements
Committed crimes. May fifth at five p.m. in Kızılay
And all of us come from work elsewhere
To Ankara, the revolution’s base

In the Forties we were seven. A draftee’s hitch three years
They bragged about keeping us out of the War, they still do
When you’re seven the rule is to go to school hungry
Beside wheat that rots, beside furs and diamonds
To go to school hungry. Maybe only a simit, an orange for lunch

To be skinny, ugly, ashamed of footwear
—having their long-lasting effects—
Tooth disease, disease of the hair
Trembling hands, sudden heart tremors
Scared of being shamed, ashamed
No candy, no ball, no dolls
For days weeping, notebook, pencil, book,
—the lasting effects when loneliness strikes—
They bragged the War’s far away from us
—The War’s far from us, thanks to our cleverness
Then let’s have just one more villa, one more fur coat, one more trip to
                                                                                                               Europe
Well-nourished, white as white peals of laughter in black automobiles
Sometimes a bunch of parsley, a basket of eggs
In return for a salary of fifty lira and ninety kuruş a soldier’s ration
Black black black
Ankara

War outside, as a New Rome is built
An Old Rome demolished
A world where wolves lounge about with songs on their lips
Dogs in a long spring heat
Blood, fire, endless starving, rotting Europe
With its trusts, banks and stock exchanges
At their keenest in virtue and bravery and treachery

Year nineteen fifty. It was back the summer I love
I believe we weren’t even seventeen yet, in our old age
Not even seventeen, I believe, still back in our childhood
Who stirred up everything, with what right, for what
How had we multiplied so quickly
In love, in shame, in indifference, in grudge
In forgiveness, in forgiveness that ruins that clouds

The months of May are beautiful, with their brave
Stoneworkers who pierce holes to let the stream flow
With folk singers, swearing fishermen
Gravediggers, girls gathering snails,
Chatty, smiling women, wool spinners
Those struck by epidemics, sharp market sellers
But above all with their revolutionaries, oh those revolutionaries
Who, mistake after mistake become ever more unmistaken
The May months are beautiful.

For the sake of cancer ladies and gentleman dance all night long
In return for receipts, pity is bestowed on the blind and the poor
In black headlines, “An incomparable, invaluable person”
For businessmen with no work to be done.

Summer I love is here for clothes in mothballs
For moldy pickles, rotting jams
For stinking awareness-raisers glued to their chairs
—Oh the remedy you claim to be that’s not true remedy.
.
Summer I love is here with its minstrels and bards
Troubled ones, pencil-browed ones, lousy-haired ones
Nylon-stockinged women, scabby-horsed men
Summer is back to Anatolia
To Anatolia
Oh the remedy you claim to be that’s not true remedy.
You sit where you are, don’t move
Like a socialist Jesus once in a while drop by
Stand aside, so you can take the center when the time’s ripe
May comes down to Anatolia from its own springs
May comes down to Anatolia from its own mountains
The summer I love it’s back

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne

Woman’s Song

It’s time to leave, the day of banishment’s upon us,
Exile is here again,
I’ve packed the books and dressed the kids,
Let’s make for the snows of Dranaz.

Wherever we go, the people are poor as mice.
Every spring and summer far from home
We return to our native place but know
Neither our place of exile nor our roots.
We picked a crocus in the Ardahan uplands,
A narcissus at Sinop,
The yellow rose at Van,
The orange fragrance came from Kumluca.
We confused home and exile,
Exiles like us were never known before.

It’s time to leave, the day of banishment’s upon us,
In your absence the shoots you set will grow,
Shake in the wind and shelter from the sun.
It’s nature’s law the crops will ripen,
The infant find its tongue and fragile form,
The mist will vanish from Isfendiyar’s top.

Greetings from us to those who’ve gone before,
Greetings to friends and kin, to those who suffer,
Greetings to those who endure,
My pity is for the helpless, don’t look at my tears.

It’s time to leave, the day of banishment is here.
Don’t ask where is our country and our native land.

Translated by Ruth Christie

Song of a Dweller in a High-Rise Block

They piled the houses high,
in front long balconies.
Far below was water
far below were trees

They piled the houses high,
a thousand stairs to climb.
The outlook a far cry
and friendships further still.

They piled the houses high
in glass and concrete drowned.
In our wisdom we forgot
the earth that was remote
and those who stayed earthbound.

Translated by Ruth Christie

Elegy for the Right Arm of Musa Akbaba
from Lower Cinbolat*

How can I say it, can’t get my words right
I struck off my own arm, let go of it
They’ve pulled my land from under my feet
This cruelty against us, this is death

This one field fed us and clothed us
What is this law, who writes it, who makes it up?
It’s a cruelty unknown to the vulture and wolf
My words run short, run out, this is death

Syria’s mountains are smoke-veiled, oh my oh me,
What’s known as Ceylanpınar is closed to us
Our kids can’t race gazelles down to the stream
Let the cranes be the warning to our songs
The lords of Urfa are furious

How shall I say it, who’s the cause, who’s to blame
Never in my life has my fury been
So edgy, as sharp as the blade of a knife
One thing I know, my hand committed the crime
No power is left to me but my own life
What I let fall was mine, my own arm

*“100 acres of land belonging to Musa Akbaba from the village of Cinbolat in the borough of Nusretbey, Urfa, was divided, confiscated and given back to its former owner under the Land and Agriculture Reform Law. Musa Akbaba flew into a fury in the middle of his field and, using a machine for sowing, chopped off his right arm, which he blamed for voting for (…).” From the newspaper Cumhuriyet, 16th December, 1987.

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne

Gardens and Vines

It was still the green almond time, we hadn’t yet faded
you two little girls would come up
one with big blue-eyed comical looks
the other, quiet, passive

blue pretended to be the world
a breeze of Ulvi Uraz from places of no return
a joy that couldn’t fit
into my big-sisterly shell
in the music room fugitive moments
at the window knee-high grass
the back yard

from those days to these
what have you carried over
what have I?

of course in those days too
a few things happened
but Afghan towns
weren’t yet a legend
Iraqi children, their mothers…
Iraq in ashes, Iraq in ruins
the Middle East a world wound

As if day no longer exists now
the sky skips over it
nights fall fall into dreams
on the globe some place
a black stain that grows perpetually.
The stain harsh, hurting the onlooker
The one who sees the lesions
Which is why the media
created blindness first of all

from those days to these
what have you carried over
what have I?

Up against the Ziverbey mansion
a house, Istanbul
between roses and screams
I must’ve been blind, blinded I was then
Outside the sun shone past us

Once the hot frame cools down
it turns really cold
the mouth is shut fast
the eye is no longer an eye

from those days to these
what have you carried over
what have I?

At last the desert dust
Also rained on us
The seas withdrew, the rivers turned yellow
The earth lay to rot

what have you carried over
what have I?

An elderly poet points out root sources
church music, the little boy with the siren voice
wild violets, the Aleppo vines
poplars, olive trees, the wind
the gypsy girl picking wild chicory
The eagle owl
The water having to pass between heavy stones
While all these still exist here…

gülten is all I’m left with, a rose
if ever planted, stranger to any garden

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne

from Poems of 42 Days

1.

The tyrant’s night is one with the night of the wronged one
And a longer night awaits the one whose verdict is tyranny
Agony’s cry, screams, imprecations
Can pass through the needle’s eye
Feel their way through the killer, the executioner
To arrive finally at the doorway, the reason, the why.

2.

The Aftermath

Tall, purple flowers bloomed in the little park at the center of the square. A bed full of purple flowers. Could this be a coincidence? That doesn’t seem possible. If you asked the gardener who had kept them in seed, he’d say, “They were meant to be red, yellow, and white. I don’t know how they all turned out to be purple.”
He should know—if he’s seen us there, watched us on winter days. As he’s been put in charge of that impressive district, he should be a good gardener. If he’s a good gardener, then he should know why his flowers had taken on that alien color.
Purple. Seeps in from sorrow. From human agony. Drains into earth with our bodies’ electricity. What else to expect but purple flowers?
We were mothers. We returned from visits, from the prison where our sons and daughters were kept. Before, we used to scatter away, but during these days of hunger it never crossed our minds to do that. We stayed together. Walked all the length of the streets. Crammed into buses. On our way to reach the authorities in stately buildings. We sought relief in petitions, in more petitions and countless stamps.
It was cold. Most of us wore flimsy clothes, old, thin-soled shoes which soaked up the wet. We were here every day, sitting in that little round park.
They chased us from the doors. Scolded and pushed us away. Sometimes we fought them back. Shouted in anger. But we couldn’t put up with that for long, we couldn’t hold on. We went back to the little round park. Parks are for the public. Who could be angry with us, sitting there quietly? Did we sit there quietly? Yes. The most we could do was whisper to one other. What can we do, what should we do? But storms raged in our bodies. Our silence filled the world with siren-shrieks and screams. What does it matter if it’s five or ten people shouting? The ones that really matter are the quiet ones. Ask the silent one what after-shocks rock her body, what cataclysms it releases into air and earth. We used to watch how people behaved towards us. There’d be respectful silence on the streets and on the bus. Those on duty would suddenly appear confused and listless, ready to get up and quit work any moment.
The earth—the earth we trod on, the earth that blessed us with the mud, the puddles, the wet and the cold—received our pain, our anger.
We sat in that park for days. We stood and waited. On the earth where the purple flowers bloomed. If the gardener happened to see us, he could explain why the blossoms were purple instead of yellow, red and white, and why they stood so upright and tall.

3.

The Yard

A scream completed the yard
Without it a part would’ve been missing
Congealing into long icicles
The scream froze solid

The scream froze solid
Drawing deep blue pictures over us
Where d’ you get that scream from mother
Thought the guard, from the sirens,
Perhaps from the seagulls
But where’s the sea? There has to be one
Since above there’s the cold, blue-curdled sky
And below,
Underneath, beside, all through us
The yard.

The yard within which one day in seven
We were drawn together and scattered apart
And that became a living part of us.

The yard
With its huts and wiry barbs
And a guard’s pink scowl
On those other six days how could
The slate-colored roof have ever held
The silence preceding
An earthquake

It could never be whole without that scream
With its rifles pointed at us
Its noisy mechanical sounds
The scream came to make it so
It was a black-bodied wreath drifting about the yard
Its woven flowers of curse
Growing
So big
As it paused before each mother
It could only be deemed a mountain
So now
How do we mothers
Still fit in that yard?

4.

The Yard

The scream stretched out longer and longer. Circled the yard. Wrapped up the rooftops and chimneys. Made its sure way through stone or iron. Reached into the sky. Chased off the cranes. Faded the blue. Touched the scrawny force-fed trees and uninviting flowers, dove into the distant pool and bounced out again. Hit the sentinels’ huts. Rattled the stacked rifles. His strings jerked suddenly, the sergeant sprang into action, called his men to attention, gave them orders. Rifles in hand they marched forward. In the inner yard stood the woman. The scream continued.
Holding her by the arms, they half walked, half dragged her away. The scream turned to imprecations. Sustained its pitch.” You …gots, you’ve killed my son, You a.. ….kers, now kill me too.”
The scream had gathered momentum. It carried on even as the woman became quiet. They took her into an annex with a low roof, where she collapsed on the ground. They eyed each other while holding her arms. Should they pick her up or let her lie there? Should they stand her on her feet or allow her to sit? This was an unknown situation, something befalling the officials for the first time. This silent crowd, they who could only weep and let their tears trickle into their hearts, had been commanded officially for years. Official advice, official shouts, and the official reprimands flung at them was all they got. Occasional rough play was only one order of business among others.
The incredible had happened. From that quiet, helpless, skinny woman’s scream had leapt and left her utterly empty. She marveled at how she’d freed the scream that had been keeping her alive and on her feet. Should she remain lying as she was, get up, or sit down?
“What are you screaming about, woman?” the man in charge would have asked had he been there on time and been standing beside her. By the time he came running in, the woman was already curled up in a ball on the floor.
His anger faded. For a moment he considered helping her up and giving her a seat. Just as his voice was about to escape from his throat and say “She’s just a mother,” the official in him crushed it.
“Hurry up and write a report, this woman has insulted us!”
“Yes, sir.”
Who knows what place the woman—crossing mountains, ridges, and waterways—had set out from to see her son. For five minutes. Only that long. “How’re you, all right?” “I’m all right, and you?” “I’m all right.” “How’re father and sister?” “All well.” “D’you want me to get you anything?”
Only a foolish writer would add more words here. It’s clear to everyone her time would be up by now. Up without casting a last glance, up without catching a smile or final gesture.
No matter. The mother comes anyway. A three-day journey. Across mountains and rivers. Piling with others out of puffing trains or buses at stations. Piling into crammed vehicles like just another bundle. Appearing at the doorway that leads to her son.
Although visitations had been banned, for some reason a few were still allowed. Rumor had it that many a building in the towns and villages had been burnt to ashes by those being held. They were chained, beaten, attacked by dogs. Kicked. Their testicles stomped on, crushed. The mother had heard bits of this while she waited for her name to be called out. She waited but her son’s name wasn’t among those banned from visitation. She felt a secret joy, then shame. She looked around at the women with faces blurred by agony. She again felt ashamed, her joy evaporated. She felt uneasy being one of the privileged who were admitted. She felt upset with
her son. “Why had he been set apart? How will these mothers look at me now?”
“Just let me see him,” she said to herself, “just let me go in and see him.”
She entered and saw that her son could hardly stand. His head was bandaged, he could barely be understood.
“See, mother, this is how I am, now go away, I can’t stand up any longer.”
She got it at once. The onus of being set apart was not on the shoulders of her son. It was they, they, they, who had set some apart to display them. Maybe to intimidate, maybe for some other reason.
For awhile she looked about in confusion and then walked out and down the stairs. Once outside, she saw the other mothers. The stacked rifles. The dogs. It was then that the scream forced its way out of her heart, her lungs, her throat. Exploded from her mouth. Not stopping, ever. It wasn’t she who was screaming but the scream itself.
The mothers in the prison yard weren’t prepared yet to gather up the scream and find a place for it. Moving about them, the scream went berserk, slipped into bags of clean laundry, brushed headscarves and hair, both hennaed and gray, and chafed against poorly shod feet.
“Oh, who knows how her son is?” thought the mothers. “And what about the girls, are they also…?
Those banned from visitation looked all done in. A knife couldn’t pry any words out of them. How were their children doing? Two mothers fainted right off. They were picked up and stretched out on the benches. Most of the others were quietly weeping.
The scream invaded their tears and dried them up. Awakened those who had fainted. Snagged collars and shook people up. Broke in on the officials. Howled out the barking dogs.
Silence.
For its own sake the report was written. And, for the sake of it, signed.
“Can you sign?” they asked the mother.
“Yes,” she said.
“Then sign here.”
She did. She was once more herself. “My son’s had it, he’s all burnt out. Go ahead, kill me too, what do I care anymore.”
“Take her upstairs, boy.”
She was escorted upstairs. As she mounted the steps, herself again, she thought of what she would say. She expected some cannonball to be fired at her thunderously. Reprimands and humiliation.
As she opened the door, went in, and stood surrounded by men with rifles, someone shouted out her name while waving the report.
“Why did you scream like that? Why did you swear, why did you have to speak such words?”
“I saw my son in there, in that state,… you’ve crushed my baby to bits, what else could I do? What more do I have to fear? What’s left but my life, take that too, for my salvation.
Looking thoughtful and upset, not likely now to submit to the official in him, the official laid the report on his desk.
“Bring her son, let them sit down face to face. Let her see her son’s not dead, let her see these people have seven lives. Nothing ever really happens to them.”
“May the wind drive those words away from your mouth.”
They brought in her son and offered them chairs. Holding the hands of her son, she kissed and caressed his face.
“So,” thought the mother, “it was best to let that scream go, and not hold it down.” She smiled.
The scream had done its job. For now. Quietly it flew off and claimed a corner near the far end of the eave. Where it hung on.

It can be seen by anyone who looks there.

akin-whatGülten Akın (1933 – 2015)

Gülten Akın was born in Yozgat in 1933. She studied law at Ankara University and worked as a lawyer and teacher for many years in various parts of Anatolia where she traveled with her husband and children. One of the pioneers of 20th century Turkish literature, her early poems were more informed by personal ideas and experiences, while her more mature work focused on social issues. In her poetry she strived for simplicity and a desire to be understood by the ordinary reader. She won many awards for her work, and her final book of poems, Beni Sorarsan, was published in 2013.