Statement of Record

Two poems by İlhan Sami Çomak

T

Two poems by İlhan Sami Çomak

T

It’s for this reason

It’s for this reason I slashed my face.
By placing the resonance of a letter
in the space between us and the sun.
“Laugh!” I said to rebellion’s tired face.
“I’m reconciled with this matter, now.”
You know, like drawing a sketch and then staring,
asking, is it an apple, apricot, pear?
Saying, it’s a plum! in that tone that’s almost warm: 
the tone of a pause.

Blood’s brotherhood was so far away and stoppered. 
Blood that pours from all wounds and flows to me.
My skull splits from storing up night’s every sound.
Hear me well, hear me now!
I, who am the love of all the flowers—
I’ll cross the Nile, I’ll cross the Arab sands,
If the Tigris and Euphrates detain me
—It’s blood, you know, even taste has a name—
Write my name like an eye; as a watchman.   

Because the going is poetry, prose is the road.
And I would be a brother to my father,
carrying pain on my body like an amulet.

Translated by Caroline Stockford

xxx

xxx

Birthday — IV —

(from the Hymn Written by Cats, p. 10)

Forty loaves of bread, thirty-four drops  
—Not wine, it is water—After eating and drinking 
I surmounted the stone 
Looked for sand looked for sand 
A grain of sand that would get in my eye 
Then, you know, I went along with silence 
Leaving behind another year

I suddenly grew up and descended to your presence 
I thought of my hands, the sun almost got old  
And I liken the sound of rain to the water I drink 
This year snow is a certainty
In the palms of a sleeping woman, 
this year, I aged before the sun did 
My heart was the distance.  

Translated by Sevda Akyuz

xxx

xxx

Sevda Akyuz and Caroline Stockford have been instrumental in leading the PEN Norway project to free poet İlhan Sami Çomak, Turkey’s longest-serving student prisoner.

About the author

İlhan Sami Çomak is Turkey’s longest-serving student prisoner. He has published eight collections of poetry in Turkey over the past 27 years of his sentence. His latest book, Geldim Sana, won the prestigious Sennur Sezer prize. İlhan was arrested while studying geography in Istanbul in 1994 and sentenced to life in prison for the alleged crime of separatism. He maintains his innocence.
In 2020, PEN Norway began to campaign for his release and to invite poets from around the world to write for him.

About the author

Caroline Stockford is a poet, translator, and human rights activist living in Bristol, UK. Her poems have been published in Into the Void, Gard Magazine, Sharp as Lemons, Make Time for Aberystwyth, and at Burning House Press. She runs two Turkey-focussed projects for PEN Norway. Her translation of Haydar Karataş's epic true story about the Dersim massacres in Turkey, Butterfly of the Night, comes out with Palewell Press in Summer 2021. Caroline is from Barmouth in North Wales.

About the author

Sevda Akyuz studied English Literature at Bogazici University. She has taught English and Academic Writing at the University of Nevada, Reno; Bogazici University; and Koc University. She has also taught Western Civilizations, Translation, History of Drama, and Film Studies. She edits and translates books, articles, stories, plays, and poems and is currently the Translation Coordinator for a PEN Norway project.

Statement of Record

Follow Me