Sonnet of the Wishing Stone by Enis Batur


If I were rain, and on your earth could rain

If I were a candle, could light your way

If I were fire, could set your bed aflame

If I were a pen, could write on your page


If I were sky, carmine blue

If I were desert, scorpion yellow

If I were stone, heavy black

If I were water, froth white


If I were a soul, if I could fly, a bird

If I were flesh, if I could swell, the sea

If I were body, if I could blow, the wind


If I were mist, could drop upon you, morning

If I were cloud, descend to your world, evening

If I were a candle, could expire inside you, night.


poet:  Enis Batur

translated: Cas Stockford

at DAM, Istanbul, September 2016


‘They looked at me’ by Ah Muhsin Ünlü



                while walking in the street today

                all the girls looked my way

                allah allah!

                why are they all looking at me?  I asked myself

                later on, to my surprise, I realised

                I’d been wearing Murat’s shirt



poet: Ah Muhsin Ünlü

translator: Caroline Stockford

publisher:  Sel Publications 2005, 2013, 17th edition.

book title:  gidiyorum bu

About the poet:  Ah Muhsin Ünlü was born in İzmit in 1973.  He lived his life from the age of six as a student, for twenty-three years.  He began writing poetry at quarter to six on the evening of the 22nd of June 1993 and stopped at twenty past eleven on the morning of the 4th of September 1998.  He hopes for favourable conditions to prevail one day under which to pursue poetry once again.



The bow by Behçet Necatigil


The Bow

Sounds well up from the deep
not even your love can help
Wait until it passes
Don’t strain the bow much tighter
you’ll snap it

The eye within you cannot see
the crawling thought in the dark
For now I am swathed in layers
from you the cloths have fallen
you are naked

A cool breeze is blowing
You, are all heat
My hands have slipped from yours, the bridge destroyed
How can I bring you to my side
You are distant

by Behçet Necatigil

translated by Caroline Stockford

at the 2015 Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature



Derinden sesler geliyor
Durduramaz beni aşkın
Bekle geçinceye kadar
Yayı daha germe

Karanlıkta kımıldayan düşünceyi
Göremez sendeki göz
Örtülere büründüğüm şu anda
Düşmüş senden kumaşlar

Eser serin bir rüzgar
Sen çok sıcaksın
Koptu senden ellerim, köprü yıkıldı
Seni benim tarafa nasıl alabilirim

So many by Behçet Necatigil

Image result for unsent letters


So many

What became of
So many love letters
That illuminated
Nights of longing
Maybe they weren’t sent
For fear of the dark

So many love letters
Written, left unsent
Years later
Read without being received,
Answers came
Without being sent
So many love letters

by Behçet Necatigil

translated by Caroline Stockford

at the 2015 Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature


Nerelerde kaldı
Özlem gecelerini
Nice aşk mektupları
Karanlık korkusundan
Belki de yollanmadı

Nice aşk mektupları
Yazıldı yollanmadı
Almadan okunduğundan
Yıllar sonra yanıtları
Geldi yollanmadan
Nice aşk mektupları


Poem for evening by Behçet Necatigil

Image result for evening

Poem for evening

Suddenly you remember
And he you – suddenly sometimes
Where is he? What’s he doing now?
A longing sparkles between the memories.

This ‘evening’ – what a strange word
It’s like hearing it for the first time, it makes me uneasy
Evening: Will I find him if I look upon the roads?
I don’t know

The fire will extinguish soon
and longing cool
We’ll meet again one day
One day, one half evening.

by Behçet Necatigil

Translated by Caroline Stockford

at the 2015 Cunda Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature


Akşam Şiiri

Birden hatırlarsın,
O da seni – – birden bazan:
Nerde, ne yapar şimdi
Parlar bir özlem anılar arasından.

Bu akşam ne garip sözcük
Sanki ilk duydum, yadırgıyorum:
Akşam. Bilmem bulur muyum
Yollara baksam?

Söner yangın birazdan
Yatışır özlem.
Bir gün karşılaşırız
Bir gün, bir yarım akşam.

Blood by Behçet Necatigil



Within sheaths and layers, blood cannot be seen
A pink wave on rose cheeks
A blue ribbon on snow-white hands
Red blood cells suddenly drop
In blind wells, lost

Family traits passed on in white milk
Greed hides for years in a generous soul
Ugliness in the skin-tight shirt of a beauty
Imposes itself on a coming generation
Blood can’t be seen buried under the skin

The murderer, psychopath, the epileptic
Wakes, having slipped into transient sleep
A dirty drop seeping from far-distant breasts
A poor soul still in childhood
Suffers sins of faces he’s never seen

Year upon year a friend hides his enmity
Pus building up within
Releasing its familiar voice through us alone
The buried link in the chain of genes
Awakes, slyness of the deep exposed

Blue or red
Leaks down from deaths
Arriving in strange feelings
A so-distant relative lives in our body
Suckles the same hope as us in our sleep

Suddenly a thin vein is blocked by a blood clot
One always cheerful, never seen to be sad
Hears from a secret voice hushed in his artery
The awful news that toppled his grandfather
And collapses whilst walking the street

Ferhat and Kerem walk towards a mirage
Their legs are tired, the road is long
Thirsty for Şirin, hungry for Aslı
They are united, is that the lot?
Blood pushes, it is weary.
Held back by shame, pride and fear
On the outside people veil what they say
topped with foam
Says everything

Eve lives on in blood from girls and women
In guns and knives
Lives on

Tomato carnation cherry blood
Sun fire coral winter summer blood
Humankind earth water air
First there was blood
Only later
Came white


Behçet Necatigil

(Varlık, 418, 1 Mayıs 1955)

translated by Caroline Stockford and Arzu Eker-Roditakis

at the 2015 Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature


Mediterranean Salad by Gökçenur Ç.

Mediterranean Salad

med salad

Parting the crowd she approaches and hugs me round the neck
It’s Rüzgar, a friend from school I’ve not seen for twenty years!
She got married (I’d heard)
I married, had kids (she doesn’t ask)
You know what…? She says
If only…. She says
She’d always thought

That the strangers she’d thought were me from behind
The faces seen for a second in the windows of missed buses

If only she’d taken a closer look she’d know that
they looked nothing like
that kid she’d left at the table with his salad
that day in the university canteen – yet they all reminded her of me.
‘Our impressions reach us by passing through that sieve we call memory that’s holed and ruined by our past
This is why we see repeated patterns in our coincidences
That pattern is regret
A symbol chosen to represent all of our regrets
An illusion created by desire to change the past
a meaning that our inner self, not being able to bear meaninglessness, tries to impose upon the randomness that it has identified with the emptiness within us’

Clouds look like anything we want them to
Coincidences are just what we make of them.
After you got up from the table I didn’t finish that salad,

I ate nothing for days
I didn’t go home
In the parks where I woke up on wet benches in the morning
I likened the twittering of the birds to your laugh
I kept seeing your face in clouds, in lakes and constellations
When I hit the bottom I took shelter under the letter H and cried
When the wind howled like a mangy wolf I heard your name
Your name which was suited to songs of Summer
Little pink pills and alcohol
Little pink pills and alcohol
A hollow within me, a pinkish grave
A broken spearhead and a mourning that never ends
My mother found me in a dirty bathtub in a melon-coloured motel
after that, rehab and the tubes plunged down my throat
I met my wife at the hospital
I was like a beaten street dog who bared his teeth at anyone who approached to stroke him
She did not run from that wild thing I’d turned into
She patiently licked my wounds
She believed that I was good
As she believed, I recovered
These are all the things I don’t say.

Instead I say
‘You should come over to us for dinner one night’
And I don’t know
Which of the two is the greater cruelty
To leave someone in the middle of their meal
Just after they’ve said ‘I love you’
Or to invite someone round to dinner with your wife.

Poet. Gökçenur Ç.

Translator Caroline Stockford

Translated as part of the Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature 2014

‘Nefes’ of the Quiet Between Us by Haydar Ergülen

‘Nefes’ of the Quiet Between Us by Haydar Ergülen


before you even existed I was mad with you
the lack of you upset me, and then you were here
you were so beautiful I could not want you for myself
now I’m subdued by your absence as if you were here

this sensitivity, oh, you can’t imagine
things that should upset me seem to make no mark at all
what am I to do, your presence is more barren than your absence
have you left me no-one else to go quiet on?
I alone am left in the desert of your silence

I know you won’t show this stillness to just anyone at all
and your eyes are like Autumn, that stealer of leaves
as memories fall, eyes shall fill
those eyes must be cleaned before Summer is here
or the silence between us will be sullied by tears

you must love someone enough to go quiet on them
don’t talk when they arrive:
where were you all this time?
why didn’t you love me?
without you I had no-one not to talk to!
is what you should say
and when they’re with you, go quiet on no-one but them


poet: Haydar Ergülen
Translation Collaboration of Caroline Stockford and Selhan Endres
at the 2013 Cunda international Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature

This poem first appeared in Turkish Poetry Today, 2015, edited by George Messo

available at :

A gossamer-winged breeze by Gökçenur Ç.

A gossamer-winged breeze


You dropped my hand
and a gossamer-winged breeze
in the space
created between our palms

and there, striking out
with a green handkerchief
between its teeth
began night’s


Poet: Gökçenur Ç
Translated by Caroline Stockford

at the 2014 Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature

This poem first appeared in Turkish Poetry Today, 2015, edited by George Messo

available at :


Aberystwyth listens two great Turkish poets in translation

This month I have been performing the work of two great modern Turkish poets, Haydar Ergülen and Küçük İskender at several different venues in Aberystwyth, Mid Wales.

Haydar Ergülen’s work is multi-layered, deeply moving poetry with a grounding in Sufi teaching.  When I worked on his poetry for two whole weeks during the CWTTL Cunda Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature in September 2013 I found myself inspired (read: required/could not avoid) to write poems and his poetry also made me experience deeply memorable dreams of apparent simplicity but lasting effect.  The poet limits himself to certain sets of words such as ‘green’, signifying love, and the repetition of certain words along with the rolling rhythm of the stanza lines lulls the reader into a transcendental state.  The poet values ‘childlikeness’ as a great asset in adults and his poems sing with joyful simplicity whilst reverberating on a much deeper level and leaving your mind with a gift once you have read his work.

Here is a link to ‘Where do your eyes come from?’ by Haydar Ergülen.  Please take the time to enjoy this beautiful poem…

Here is too a link to the Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s ‘Chinwag’ spoken word event where the poem is reviewed by Michael Dante.

The poetry of Küçük İskender in contrast is electrifying, gripping and hits you head-on.  Derman Över (aka Küçük İskender) has just published ‘Ali’, his 23rd book of poetry (!), he is also a playwright, essayist and runs poetry performance competitions and events in Beyoğlu, Istanbul.  I love performing his poem ‘Abi’ which is a dark tale of a bored young man’s obsession with the guy in the opposite apartment.

Here is a link to his poem ‘Abi’.

Abi was last performed at the closing night of the Cardboard Collective, a group showcasing mid Wales’ wealth of artistic and musical talent.  This is a link to their facebook page