I8: ON WRITING AND ON WRITING POETRY
I won't say anything new.
I will be repeating Old Masters, I'm afraid.
I remember, I remember here and now.
I have been robbed off some life-giving force, say Helen.
I remember now in pain, but not in vain.
I remember sometime in the future,
A daunting moment in my own history,
Say just B.P.(Before Prufrock),
Or a great moment slightly A.P.,
When they find me in written form.
What is written is the new form of the left-over-fantasy crumblings
plundered by the enthusiasm that comes after one says
"I wish I could put these into words" while s/he is
through a crazy moment late at night. All this happens just
before what is written is presented to the market to be consumed.
What is written is never what is lived. What is lived is that
moment. The moment it is put into words, that moment is past.
The time dimensions of that moment lived and of what is written
are not the same. That moment cannot be put in written form. What's
written is the/a reflection of what is lived, it retains its clues.
What is written is
the epitaph of what is lived.
Living is a priori to writing. Some claim the opposite is also
true. Possible. The opposite is to believe that fantasy is
reality. It is to imprison all time and space to the "I".
too short for fantasy, i.e. fantasy is too large for the "I".
That fantasy is of no use to the "I". If so, what's
lived is the epitaph of what is written. The reader reads this
epitaph. This is the only way that the writer assures him/herself
that s/he has "really" lived that moment.
Writing is, ipso
By writing, the writer cannot live again what s/he has lived.
While s/he is trying
to write what is lived, the writer sets sail
into the fantasy.
Fantasy appreciates this heroic act, and does
not let its plunderer
However frightened s/he might be, the writer is happy to be a
part of his/her own fantasy, s/he wants this. His/her will gives
acceptance to this act because this act resembles marrying
another body. Thus,
s/He is multiplied, and as s/he is
is united with him/herself, s/he is completed.
S/He wishes this.
If fantasy is not lived without being imprisoned to the "I",
becomes a nightmare. The writer, then, falls and falls in his/her
fantasy. S/He crumbles,
and is lost in oblivion. S/He likes this
oblivion in his/her
fantasy. S/He thinks s/he lives in that
becomes his/her experience. Being, as it is
what he/she has lived and written, is not.
S/He tries, in vain, to coincide the dimensions of time, and to
intersect time arrows. This makes the writer tragic. What is
written may not be
tragic. It may be, but not like that.
Writing is, ipso facto, TRAGICOMIC.
It is easy to fill in an empty sheet of paper. What's onerous
to live, at a crazy
moment late at night, a full sheet of paper.
What's lived is,
ipso facto, immortalized. Time is, ipso facto,
burnt. Death can
only be lived as thus.
Writing, i.e., the
word, ipso facto, IS.
The poem, the word itself, is responsible for its creator's
aspiration to be
like Gods (Remember Heidegger and Holderlin). I
am writing here and
now. By means of writing, I strive to be one
with this vastness
I am thrust in, whether it is wilderness or
not., and therefore
I think I am. (Rasula would agree).
Once I write and read a poem out loud, once I show it to someone,
the poem is no longer
mine. It is no longer as dependant a
creature as it was
at the time of its production. The feeling is,
thus, just like marrying
your daughter off to a stranger, or just
like sending your
boy to boarding school. The poem survives, but
no longer with its
creator. It assumes a separate identity. It
demands this. It
is the poem's natural right, by birth, to
survive on its own.
I am singing my own song, pas comme je peux,
mais comme je veux.
This, albeit a poem, will be consumed,
however painful it
is for me to know. Interpreters will decode my
word or make it and
mis/interpret it. This is inevitable. The
poet cannot tell
his readers how to read his poems. Yet the poem
is. Therefore, I
know I will be, though in different shades,
shapes and sizes
than I intend to be.
Writing, therefore, is not a rewarding process. Whatever I write
will soon quit me to seek love and attention, as separate
Writing is not only
a life giving force, like love. It is life,
it is one's own self. It is WRITING, THE VERY ACT itself, that
deserves to be glorified,
even if what's written is no longer the
writer's after eloping
to someone else's heart or mind. When the
creator cannot produce
any longer, he loses touch with his very
being, his very act.
This is why Kosinsky said he was committing
Most writers, especially
poets, do not know that this is a fatal
process when they start writing. (Courage is the offspring of
And when they learn that it is so, it is
too late to give
up. Otherwise they won't exist. They must go on.
Once they cannot
produce any longer, they don't exist either.
Although I agree with V.N. Volosinov's claim that "The immediate
social situation and the broader social milieu wholly
from within, so to speak--the structure
of an utterance,"
I cannot help quoting Marcuse's warning that
language soiled by
social experience can only enshrine archaic
structures, and therefore
needs to be transcended (Jonathan
Raban, THE SOCIETY
OF THE POEM). It is always the easier, though
way for a poet to use a common language instead
of creating his own.
Such an act of writing poetry is sentenced
to serve some ephemeral
purpose and be lost in oblivion when that
purpose is gone,
and as it is a form of compromise or like
playing for the spectators.
Very few exceptional works of art,
e.g., Picasso's "Guernica",
have achieved immortality however
grainy and ephemeral
a look they carry on them.
The poet does not
compromise. S/he forms his/her private and
(Paul Valery, who said that poetry is somewhat
a separate language,
would agree). However, the poet is not bound
to use an elevated
language, different from everyday language
(T.S. Eliot would
It is up to the readers/consumers
to get whatever they think the
poet intends to mean, illocutionary or perlecutionary. It is not,
and should not be,
the poet's business to worry about what the
readers get out of
his/her very personal utterance. (Walter
Benjamin would agree).
Otherwise, s/he will not be. On the other
hand, seeking a language
that will appeal to everyone, is an
invective to the
intellectual capacity of most of the readers who
expect to read, understand
and enjoy in a poem what is and
sometimes is not
common to all. This might also mean that the poet,
is trying to own, or belong to, words that
can easily be acknowledged
by the majority, instead of liberating
them and letting
them find new homes. The poet must let the
readers enjoy feeling
privileged. Their presence, as James
Baldwin would agree,
thrusts the poet into the continuity of
change. An evolving
and changing language will change the
readers, and this
continuity, as opposed to some statis in
language, is what
a poet aspires for. Many Turkish poets,
including Yahya Kemal
Beyatlı, Nazım Hikmet, Behçet Necatigil,
and Orhan Veli, have
achieved this. We still read them, sing
their poems and we
are matured as we are changed by them.
Criticism has not
been able to touch their poems, which proves
that Edward Foster,
who is against "fostering" ideas and
attitutes, is right.
Foster, I understand, will agree, as much as
I do, with the contemporary
Turkish poet İlhan Berk, who says
that the history
of a poem is hidden. This invalidates all
A poet's main concern should be mortals because what is immortal,
e.g., a material thing, gains meaning only when a mortal touches
it. Therefore, contradictory
though it may seem to what I have
said so far, a poem
needs an audience, a reader or a critic, who
will believe and
understand because only at their presence can a
poem exist. Though
a paradox, in order that a poem be immortal,
mortals must be.
I write, knowing that it is like thrusting a pebble stone into
the sky. Whether it will hit the target, I am unable to know at
this moment in time,
and though I'm curious about it, I refrain ı
from wondering whether
it will or not. If I knew, I am afraid I
wouldn't be able to re-create myself and look into the eyes of
the readers, who
acknowledge my existence. Therefore, I write:
THE SKY WAS IN HER EYES
cried the little child.
"HOW SMALL IT
An artist needs to have a strong self-image, a credible personal
vision, in order to stop wriggling like an insect pinned upon
wall. He can create
this image by putting his personal history,
his past into words
to live today and let it proceed into the
future. This is the
key that should never be lost. Otherwise, he
will live and write
about his own place, ie., the threshold, a
purgatorial no land.
Topographically speaking, this land is
between being and
non-being, between his/her assigned present
state of being human
and his/her aspiration to be completed, to
be a part of THE
WHOLE, or to be godlike.
Likewise, a poem is a different and independent entity between
its origin and future, between its creator and reader. As far
being is concerned, the creator and the reader
vanish, they die; however, the poem survives.
Now, at times in a musée des mals arts and at times in a musee
des beaux arts, I am creating my work, living my life as a
in all colors, odours, shapes and sizes,
singing my very personal
song, moulding all this into my word, my poem. I AM MY WORD.
In the future, my
work, my life, my song, my word, all as a
whole, will enable me to look into the eyes of people again, as
could very easily
do when I was a child. When I am gone, flesh
and bone, I hope
readers will take my poem and many others from
all over the world
and be better persons, and look fearlessly
into their own eyes
and into those of their brethren.
Thus, at the moment,
I write at times with joy, at times in
despair, but always
raising my hopes for the day to come, when I
trigger the release
and restore my life-giving force and be one
with my Helen, because
as Racine says, "Dans le fond des forets
votre image me suit."
I AM, IPSO FACTO, MENELAUS, THE POEM.
Put me next to my Old and New Masters, in Musee des Beaux Arts,
where no fear, no hatred and no guilt can blackmail hope and
love, so that everyone
voices his/her utter his/her own word
"ON THE PULSE
OF THE MORNING" (Maya Angelou) with the simplest
and most crutial
word, GOOD MORNING". If you wish to be
"embracing and embraced" (R.M.Rilke), then make your
poetic ıèı space, grow your tree and
EMBRACE YOUR WARM WINDS
INTO THE DAY OUT OF THE DARKNESS
HOLD OUT YOUR HANDS WASH OFF OLD FEARS
PIECE YOUR WORDS TOGETHER, MAKE A HOME
OPEN YOUR DOORS TO THEIR NEW DREAMSONTO THE SKY
WRITE ANOTHER POEM.