Tugrul Tanyol, of Istanbul, Turkey, recently brought his poetry and art of the spoken word to Berks County. Tanyol performed at GoggleWorks earlier in August, thanks to Berks Bards and a grant with the Pa. Partners in the Arts. While Tanyol has previously read his poetry all around the world, he has not often come to the United States.
The reading at GoggleWorks was the poet’s first reading in English. Tanyol said he prefers not to read his poems in English “since pronunciation would kill the beauty if there is any” but states the poems were well received. At the Yeditepe University in Istanbul, Tanyol teaches Introduction to Sociology, Social Psychology, Art Appreciation, Globalization and courses related to communication and media.
For Tanyol, the studies of poetry and sociology are in his blood. “My father was a renowned sociology professor at Istanbul University, and our house had always been a debating place of academicians, intellectuals, journalists and literary people,” Tanyol said. His father was a poet and an important literary critic.
“The founder of modern poetry in Turkey Yahya Kemal Beyatl was his mentor, also my godfather.” Growing up, poetry was the main subject in his daily life.
Tanyol was a student at a French Catholic school, where he read the French classics. “The library at home was also full with French romanticist, Parnassian, and symbolist poets. My first readings in poetry obviously were Lamartine, Hugo, Verlaine, Baudelaire and Rimbaud,” the poet stated.
He has now been practicing poetry for the past 44 years and has eight poetry books published, including many re-editions and collection of poems.
“Even if we don’t read poetry we profit from it,” Tanyol said. “Everything starts with poetry whether people are aware of it or read poetry or not. Poetry creates and forms the language.”
He started writing poems at the young age of 14, but now says “they were terrible.” He now attributes his passion for the craft to the influences of Tristan Tzara, a Romanian and French avant-garde poet. “Suddenly everything changed... I was 16.” Now the poem has been included in a collection published in 2012.
Including Tzara, Tanyol has been inspired by French poets Paul Verlaine, Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud, Greek poets Odysseas Elytis and George Seferis, German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and Latin American poets Octavio Paz, Rubén Darío, José Marti, César Vallejo.
“Although I was able to read in English, poetry reading in that language came very late. I wasn’t aware of the importance of Byron or Shelley or Keats, and still I can”t say they had any influence on me. On the other hand American poetry took my breath away,” Tanyol recalled. His favorite American poets include E.E Cummings, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Hart Crane, Robert Bly, Wendell Berry, Louise Glück. But, he says, his favorite poet will always be French poet W.B. Yeats.
Tanyol agrees with Eliot, saying, “ find poetry the most nationalistic form of art.” Tanyol’s work is translated by Turkish gentleman for the French translations and two British friends for the English translations. “You can translate the ideas, but not emotions and feelings alike,” Tanyol said. “A poem lives in its native language.”
For Tanyol, writing poetry is “an easy and natural process” because the “words have always a greater control over you.”
“Poetry is longing,” he said. “When you are fulfilled with let’s say love, you have no need to write about it, because you are living it with all its glory, but when love is lost, remembering it becomes a poem.”
the branch of a tree
against all odds
extends into the sky
as though to to grasp
the first light,
and that is why
obscure man does not like the green
the trunk of the tree calls you
go put your arms around it, you will see
it is like hugging a loved one
will show you the past
when you look at a remote forest
that distant green line
to reach out and not able to,
cross streets of the city
the trees are willing to live with people
people are not
gravity! put your foot solid to the ground
the tree has already found
the place you were long looking for
WORDSA Ruth Christie translation
my body’s a prison
when words escape it becomes free
my soul must be their hell
the peace they couldn’t find in me
they seek in other souls
a box of steel
hard as a heart
yet possible to open
with the old words
of some anonymous person
some words some songs
awake the human in us
they lurk for hours on the tip of our tongue
like the drop in the corner of our eye
that refuses to flow