Saturday, September 23, 2017


Gezi Park, May 2013

[Image source:]

I'm making a first few cautious forays into Andrea Brady's new book The Strong Room (Crater 42, Jan 2017). 

Title and opening stanza of one of the poems:

Gel Gör Beni Aşk Neyledi


We walk burning, itching, streaming all over,
cascading Mungyeong yellow. Love or its sister
forces has stained Cumhuriyet Caddesi
with blood but les pavés pressed
hand to hand dry flowers become barricades,
underneath, roots of the red apple.
We aren´t static, aren´t mad.
Come see what our revolution has done to us!

The full text is here:

The poem is about the Gezi Park protests beginning on 28 May 2013.  ("Diren Gezi" means "Resist, Gezi!"). explains various terms used in the poem, eg. çapulcu , the protesters' adoption of Erdogan's absurd description of them as "looters".

burning, itching, streaming = The police used tear gas. Tear gas is banned as a weapon of warfare (in various international treaties most states have signed) but it's permitted and much used by states to control their own citizens.

Cumhuriyet Caddesi = A highway in Istanbul, passing along one side of Gezi Park.

les pavés  =  paving slabs

dry flowers = As in the peaceful Portuguese revolution of April 25 1974, carnations were thrown.

The poem has this endnote: In solidarity / with apologies to Yunus Emre  *

[* To be strictly accurate there's a bar-shaped diacritic above the first "u" in "Yunus". I haven't worked out how to reproduce it yet (I also haven't seen that spelling anywhere else).]

Yunus Emre is a famous and popular Sufi poet, one of the earliest poets to write in Turkish. Andrea's poem is an improvisation on Yunus Emre's famous poem Gel Gör Beni Aşk Neyledi ("Come see what love has done to me"). Here's the first couple of stanzas in a translation I found online:

I’m walking, my heart ablaze...charred I’m burning!
Love painted me blood red.
left me neither sane nor mad
come, see what Love did to me

sometimes as the winds, I whirl
at times as dust on the path, I drift
sometimes as swift as a flood,
come, see what Love has done to me

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