What Have You Carried Over?
Poems of 42 Days and Other Works
edited by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne
ISBN: 978-1-58498-096-4, $17.95
cover photo: Akif Elbistan
"If you only acquire a single book of world poetry this year, try this one." --World Literature Today
“In a poll conducted by the longstanding Milliyet Arts Journal in 2008, Gülten Akın (1833-) was voted the ‘greatest living Turkish poet’ by an outstanding majority of Turkey’s writers, poets, and literary critics. In the same year, she was awarded the prestigious Erdal Öz Literature Prize ‘for her life-long dedication to the art of poetry, for the remarkable innovative turn in her recent work, all of which reflect the quality achieved in the contemporary Turkish poetic tradition.’ …Very few would disagree with the following description of her poetry by an anonymous contributor to a popular blog (Ekşi Sözlük) in Turkey: ‘Gülten Akın knew how to pull together the energy of socially conscious poetry, the rich imagery of the Second New Movement and the sensitivity of womanhood. She is the true mother of Turkish poetry.’” —from the Introduction by Saliha Paker
“Gülten Akın’s work spans sixty years of often turbulent change in the society and politics of her country, marked dramatically by three military coups in 1960, 1971, and 1980. It reflects both the frustrating conflicts and the quiet moments of her private life as a wife and mother of five, but also her unwavering commitment towards upholding social conscience as a universal value against injustice and inequality. Her deeply ingrained Sûfî beliefs surface too, especially in her later poems. In this selection of Gülten Akın’s work, the first to be published in English, the reader will find translations that represent only some of the poems in twelve of her major collections. Poems of 42 Days is translated in its entirety and holds a central place in this volume, as it does in her Turkish corpus of poetry.
...it was midnight
you will remember, to my path you’d appeared
as a cloud, to my darkness as a guide:
since then your black hair has grown so long
my feet touch your carpet, I fly”
—Enis Batur (2007), author of Ash Divan
(from “Gülten Akın Sonnet,” 2007, trans. Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne)
"If you only acquire a single book of world poetry this year, try this one. In 2008 Gülten Akın was voted the “greatest living Turkish poet” by a group of fiction writers, poets, and literary critics. Born, in her own words, “in the tenth year of the modern Turkish republic” (i.e., 1933), she has published twelve major collections, starting when she was only twenty-three years old. Even though there already exists in English a full-length critical study of her work from Indiana University Press by Hilal Sürsal (Voice of Hope, 2008), the current volume is the only selection of her poetry to be published in English." --World Literature Today
Saliha Paker is Professor of Translation Studies and a literary translator. She founded the Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature in 2006.
Mel Kenne is a poet and translator who retired recently from his position as Lecturer in the Department of American Culture and Literature at Kadir Has University, in Istanbul, Turkey, where he still lives.