Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Gonca Özmen

Jan 22, 2021 | Poetry | 1 comment

Translated from the Turkish by Neil P. Doherty

The Moon

to the one with the mineral eyes


I spoke of these- not to you- but to a woman with a starred forehead
Once upon a time we were reciprocal we were symmetrical
Her words we untangled they were the joints of my knees
We even ripened as two cherries on one branch
We lay down to we awoke from sweaty dreams a tomb in our voice
We let our blood flow from here and there
We even -though you won’t believe it- appeared in court
The Verdict on Behalf of the Turkish People:
Let your existence be no gift to anything at all


I heard of these, not from you, but from a woman of much spice
We were as warm to each other as vests just stripped off.


I had this squinting woman over there read these, not you
We even stood side by side to form a line of verse
As resentful as cats who’d spilled milk
While in groans and grumbles we licked our wounds
We were even known to haunt a forest


At night we were neighboring leaves, though you won’t believe it
In ourselves we were an under vine, a thrill in the arbor, a fence of mourning,
A hole in tights, a broken off button, a ripped trouser leg
In ourselves we were the fate of a never opened garden
The consistency of tart apples, though you won’t believe it

More truth in our huddling in ourselves than you standing in yours.





At a yellowed patience a person stares sometimes
However human this yellowed patience may seem

A person sometimes goes to the olive groves
Feeds the horses, strokes the curtains

Sometimes it happens that a language dies
That an ant smiles happens too sometimes

A word goes and finds another
Into its shell a walnut retreats
An insect suddenly loses its voice

Evening in the garden secretly
So secretly in the garden
An eternity grows and grows

The world does not belong to us, but to the shadows.


These translated poems are published in collaboration with

Gonca Özmen

Gonca Özmen

Gonca Özmen was born in Burdur, Southern Turkey in 1982. She studied English Language and Literature at the University of Istanbul, finishing her master’s degree in 2004. Subsequently she was awarded a Ph. D in 2016 for a thesis on “A Revision in Ekphrastic Poetry of Cubist Male Painters’ Representation of the Female Body”. She has published three books of poetry and many essays and critical articles on both Turkish and world poetry. In 2011 Shearsman published a selection from her first two books entitled “The Sea Within” translated by George Messo. Her second book “Belki Sessiz” “Perhaps Silent”) was translated into German by Monika Carbe and was published as “Vielleicht Lautlos”by Elif Verlag in September 2017. She has also won many awards for her poetry since she first began publishing. Only last month her 2019 collection “Bile İsteye” (“Pointedly,Purposefully”) was awarded the Yunus Nadi Award for Poetry, one of the oldest and most prestigious literary prizes in Turkey. She works as an IB teacher of Film Studies and The Theory of Knowledge in the Şişli Terakki School in Istanbul.

Neil P. Doherty

Neil P. Doherty

Neil P. Doherty is a translator born in Dublin, Ireland in 1972 who has resided in Istanbul since 1995. He currently teaches in Bilgi University. He is a freelance translator of both Turkish and Irish poetry. In 2017 he edited Turkish Poetry Today, which was published in the U.K by Red Hand Books. His translations have appeared in Poetry Wales, The Dreaming Machine, The Honest Ulsterman, Turkish Poetry Today, Arter (İstanbul), Advaitam Speaks, The Seattle Star, The Enchanting Verses and The Berlin Quarterly.

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