Volume 108, Number 1/2
|How quickly we forgot the morning,The morning that old unread Ottoman script
(Either from left to right with a butterfly,
Or with a reed from bottom to top)
Would be rapidly erased.
—Melih Cevdet Anday
If there’s a single longitude where East meets West, it must cross Turkey—a nation that touches Iran on one side, Greece on the other, and shares borders with six other countries. The imaginary line might bisect Cappadocia, the otherworldly landscape featured on our cover. For centuries a travelers’ destination, this maze of spires, chimneys, knobs, and caves is notable for what it hides: beneath the eerie beauty of its surface lie underground cities built in ancient times.
Turkey’s “crossroads” identity has inspired writers from near and far for generations. It was the nation to which novelist, playwright, and (yes) poet James Baldwin retreated throughout the 1960’s, finding himself strangely at ease there when turmoil at home became oppressive. Who could have foreseen, then, the regional transformation that’s unfolding today, propelling Syrian refugees across its southern border?
In keeping with Poet Lore’s historical interest in world writers—a commitment our founding editors made in 1889—we open this issue with the work of 20th-century Turkish poet Melih Cevdet Anday, whose spare lyrics are both direct and enigmatic.This portfolio of translations by Sidney Wade and Efe Murad includes poems that pose complex questions in language so plain we can almost frame answers (“How did we so quickly forget the morning?”), poems with claims so universal they could be anyone’s (“Our new coffins have just arrived”).
Other poets in this issue cast lines around the globe as far as Kyrgyzstan (Kurt Olsson’s “Cleanly”), India (D. Nurkse’s “Early Morning at Hurani”), China (Thomas Hawks’s “The Tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi”), South Africa (Matthew Gavin Frank’s “In the Parking Lot of the N17 Hospital…”), and Brazil (Jonathan Barrett’s “Knowing the Dam Will Break”). And there are poems that travel distances more difficult to measure, by writers as diverse as Ellen Bass, Robin Becker, Jim Daniels, Rita Dove, Stuart Friebert, Amy Gerstler, Michael S. Harper, David McAleavey, Nathaniel Mackey, and David Ray.
Sometimes a journey is just a journey, but within a poem the literal and figurative can co-exist to unforgettable effect. In the best case—when lines bear revisiting over the course of a lifetime—we uncover something new each time we return.
World Poets in Translation
Melih Cevdet Anday (Turkey) Introduction by Sidney Wade
The Unquiet Tree
Letter from a Dead Friend
The Coffin Shop
Didn’t These Swallows Just Leave?
Forgetting is for the Birds
[from] Changes, 2.
[from] Changes, 3.
[from] Changes, 5.
[from] Changes, 8.
The Loneliness of Macbeth
In the Sun
Adrienne Su Technology
Corinna McClanahan Schroeder The Stage Carpenter’s Wife
Heather Swan The Curtain Maker’s Children
Rachel Mennies Solomon
Robin Becker The Weight
Paul Martin Eating Steamed Crabs at Price’s
Paul Martin The Pigs
Ellen Bass Morning
Kurt Olsson Stillborn
Kelly Cressio-Moeller In the Bedrooms of Dead Soldiers
Amy Gerstler What I Did with Your Ashes
Marge Piercy Things that will never happen here again
Jim Daniels In the Face of Another War
Lee Rossi “What a Bringdown”
Jaclyn Dwyer Put a Soda Counter in the ER Waiting Room
Alicia H. Gregory The Turning
Patricia Fargnoli At Allen Brothers Garden Center
James Bertolino The Promise of Wings
Richard Peabody Thor Ballyee, 1977
Rita Dove The Spring Cricket Repudiates His Parable of Negritude
Ellen Bass Night Music
Kurt Olsson Cleanly
Jonathan Barrett Knowing the Dam Will Break
Thomas Hawks The Tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi
D. Nurkse Two Glasses
D. Nurkse Early Morning at Hurani
Miriam Green V’higiyanu
Chana Bloch The Ark
Sara Burnett Pupusas at St. Camillus Church, Maryland
Gary Fincke Citing the Purgatory Museum
Bernadette Geyer For Years
Barbara Crooker Odalisque Avec Anémones, 1937
Kathy Engel Volunteer
Laura Read You Are on the Green Level
Doug Ramspeck Kallos
Helen Tzagoloff Chanteuse
Laura Madeline Wiseman Four Walls
Shannon Wagner Emergency Response
Kara van de Graaf Washing
David Ray Saint Marilyn
David McAleavey New Colossus
David McAleavey Balancing Act
Doug Ramspeck Interior Offerings
Chana Bloch Cleave
Ellen Bass The Dog’s Tooth
David Ray Canine Angst
Jack Ridl Within the Moment of Indefinite Suffering
Alima Sherman I Smell the Burning
David Ray Portrait of a Former Slave, U.S.A.
Rochelle Jewel Shapiro Administering to the President, April 14th, 1865
Matthew Gavin Frank In the Parking Lot of the N17 Hospital, Early Afternoon, Gauteng Province, South Africa
Lesley Wheeler In Other News
Helen Wickes Silver Lake Rituals
Sharon Doyle This is Why We Play the Game:The Glass Chess Set
Michael S. Harper PICC Line Assembly at Epoch Senior Care
Ronald Wallace Turnips
Gail Martin The Next to the Last Thing My Mother Taught Me
Gail Martin Not a House You Can Live In, Cold
Elizabeth Harlan-Ferlo Fall
D. Nurkse The Island after Labor Day
Joan I. Siegel Starlings in Early November
Patricia Fargnoli Winter Grace
Stuart Friebert Panking
Kate Angus Winter Song
Christopher Presfield Small Voice
Chris Green Student Roofer
Martin Lammon A Fable: Why the Village Will Never Be Empty
Nathaniel Mackey Oldtime Ending
John Bargowski Goshawk
Kara van de Graaf Exhibit
Essays & Reviews
“Alternatives to Absurdity: Prose Poems by Mary Oliver & Campbell McGrath” by Dallas Crow
Susan Deer Cloud reviews No Surrender by Ai
Katherine E. Young reviews Corpse Whale by dg nanouk okpik
Anne Harding Woodworth reviews An Individual History by Michael Collier