Dissident Poetry Fest to Delight Mind and Tongue

In a rare poetry reading organized by Efe Balıkçıoğlu and Sibel Erol and focused on often unacknowledged voices in contemporary Turkey, the works of three dissident authors are to be presented as a serious Turkish delight for mind and tongue.

The presentation at NYU on Feb. 23 — both in person and on Zoomwill feature Sevinç Çalhanoğlu, a feminist poet and artist who, I’m told, writes mostly about women’s experiences under Turkish patriarchy; Fırat Demir, a gay Kurdish poet who, I’m told, writes highly politically charged poems criticizing the Turkish government’s discriminatory rhetoric against Kurds; and Nicholas Glastonbury reading his translations of the late queer leftist poet Arkadaş Z. Özger, who was brutally murdered in a still-unsolved case of a hate crime against the LQBTQ+ community and Turkey’s leftist movement. 

Per the presenters:

Sevinç Çalhanoğlu was born in Istanbul in 1988, currently lives in Brooklyn, and is the founding editor of Moero, an online poetry journal based in Turkey. Her work is “shaped by memories of space and childhood, and reflects themes of belonging, grief, and spiritual beliefs.” She incorporates visual elements and experimental writing and has exhibited interdisciplinary literary works. In addition to her Turkish poetry, she has published books in English, including A Promenade at Home (2021) and My Life in Curves Recently (2020).

Fırat Demir was born in Istanbul in 1991 and lives in New York. He is the author of two books of Kurdish poetry published in Turkish, Öte Geçeler (2015) and Yeni Cüret Çağı (2012). Critics have described his work as “queer guerrilla poetry” with its bold and diverse political poetic discourse, and they have lauded “his unique conception of aesthetic, morality and subjectivity.” He offers “an interrogation of Kurdish identity as a borderless space of resistance and joy … subvert[ing] ideological and historical clichés and displacing those with, punk vulnerabilities, strange linguistic and semantic arrangements, Rimbaud-like demonic anger, and détournement tactics.”

Nicholas Glastonbury is a cultural anthropologist of sound, media, empire, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union. He is a postdoctoral associate in the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University and holds a doctorate in Anthropology and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is also the chair of the advisory board for the PEN/Heim Translation Fund. His translation of Sema Kaygusuz’s novel Every Fire You Tend received the 2020 TA First Translation Prize from the Society of Authors.


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