Mustafa Kör

Belgium

Mustafa Kör (28.6.1976) was born in Konya (Turkey), where he lived until the age of three. In 1998, he sustained a serious car accident and since then he has been wheelchair-bound. Mustafa Kör is a writer and poet. After a successful debut novel, De Lammeren (The Lambs, 2007), his poetry debut Ben jij liefde (Are you love), which was nominated for the TAZ-Debut Prize, followed in 2016. In 2008, Mustafa Kör was the municipal poet for the city of Genk for a year. His work was awarded the Biennial Culture Prize of Maasmechelen, the El Hizjra Literature Prize and De Groene Waterman Public Prize.


The life of Mustafa Kör offers enough material for a thick novel. The writer from Limburg emigrated to our country from Turkey at the age of three and it has already been twelve years since he was confined to a wheelchair after a serious accident.

After a successful debut novel, De lammeren (The lambs, 2007), his poetry debut Ben jij liefde (Are you love) followed in 2016. The collection was nominated for the TAZ Debut Prize. Kör’s work was awarded the El Hizjra Prize for Literature, the Biennial Culture Prize of Maasmechelen and the De Groene Waterman Public Prize. Kör was also the municipal poet of Genk for some time.

The biographical aspect is clearly present both in his novel and in his poetry. Each phase in Kör’s life seems to get a place in Ben jij liefde. Turkey, the country of his parents and also the country of which he himself still retains a lot of childhood memories, comes back in the poems as an unattainable fairyland with rustling poplars, quinces and medlars. A mysterious land that evokes melancholy in the poet. Sometimes the frustration can be heard of the poet who doesn’t understand why his parents abandoned this (in his eyes) paradise-like country for a difficult existence in Europe. Reviewer Levity Peters finds that duality again in the allusions in the collection to, on the one hand, Islamic and, on the other hand, Christian mysticism. She sees within it the vacillation of the immigrant who does not yet feel completely comfortable in his new homeland, but who also no longer feels at home in his country of origin (Meander, 31/05/2016). In addition, his car accident and his subsequent paralysis is expressed in the collection, but without giving rise to pathos.

Nonetheless, it would be wrong to assume that Ben jij liefde is a bilious, negative collection. On the contrary, the very musical lyricism of Kör gives his poems a great vitality. Certainly, the poems that refer to the happiness in love that he found with the flamenco dancer Silvia Leon express sensuality and a strong life force. Reviewer William Thies describes his style in the literary magazine Poëziekrant (September-October 2016) as follows: "Kör dances and juggles with language, makes it do what he wants, lets it sparkle and twinkle. He dusts off beautiful obsolete and archaic words, polishes them and makes them shine again”.