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Seyhan Erözçelik, 1962-2011

By Harriet Staff


We are saddened to note that Turkish poet Seyhan Erözçelik has passed away at the age of 49; his work has been translated into English by Murat Nemet-Nejat (most recently, Rosestrikes and Coffee Grinds, from Talisman, 2010). Coincidentally enough, poet Joyelle McSweeney has been enthusiastically reading Erözçelik’s work. As she wrote on Montevidayo:

In this dazzling double volume, a reading of fate via coffeegrounds makes up the first portion of the book, and the resultant mystical vision or ‘Rosestrikes’ makes up the second. A mindbending series poem, ’Rosestrikes’ rides mysticism to the limit, a limit marked, classically and tautologically enough, by the Rose. The Rose is both the emblem of the mystical motion and its destination, so the series itself has an infinite yet twisting motion that is constantly saturating, arresting, and sinking back into itself, riding the weirdness of Art’s broken Moebius strip:


My eyes caught a rose the whole night

round mindnight, a needle on a rose,

to my eyes stuck, a potent liquid

is flowing from my eyes, as if roseblood…

More of Erözçelik’s poems in English translation can be found in Words Without Borders, and biographical information is available on the PIP Project blog. PIP tells us:

Born on March 13, 1962 in Bartin, a town in the Black Sea region of Turkey, Seyhan Erözçelik studied psychology at Boğaziçi University and oriental languages at Istanbul University. In 1986 he co-founded the Șiir Ati (Poetry Horse) publishing house which published over forty titles in the 1980s….

His first poem, “Düştanbul” (Dreamstanbul) was published in 1982, followed by a number of collections, including Yeis ile Tabanca (Despair and Pistol, 1986), Hayal Kumpanyasi (The Troop of Imagination, 1990), Gül ve Telve (1997) (translated in 2010 as Rosestrikes and Coffee Grounds), Șehirde Sansar Var! (There Is a Marten in Town! 1999), and Kitap, bitti! (The Book Is Over!, 2003). More recent books have included his collected poems, Kitaplar (2003), Yağmur Taşi (The Rainstone, 2004), and Vâridik, Yoğidik (Once We Were, We Weren’t, 2006).

Many of Erözçelik’s poems are written in the Bartin dialect, but others appear in different Turkic languages. The poet has also made a modernist use of classical Ottoman rhyme, aruz, particularly in his book Kara Yazili Meşkler (Tunes Written on the Snow, 2003). He has published a critical essay on the modern mysical poet Âsaf Hâlet Çelebi and the forgotten poet Halit Asim, as well as translating the poetry of Osip Mandelstam and C. P. Cavafy into Turkish.

Erözçelik was awarded the Yunus Nadi Prize in 1991, the Behçet Necatigil Poetry Prize in 2004 and the Dionysos Prize in 2005.

Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, August 25th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.