Bejan Matur

Turkey

Her first book, Rüzgar Dolu Konaklar (Winds Howl Through the Mansions), published in 1996, unrelated to the contemporary mainstream of Turkish poets and poetry, won several literary prizes. Her second book, Tanrı Görmesin Harflerimi (God Must Not See The Letter of My Script) in 1999 was warmly greeted. Two further books, appeared at the same time in 2002, Ayın Büyüttüğü Oğullar (The Sons Reared by the Moon) and Onun Çölünde (In His Desert), have been continuing the distinctive language and world of imagery special to herself and her poetry.

She has a translated book, which published by ARC in England, called In the Temple of a Patient God.

Her translated book in German and French published in Luxembourg by PHİ Publishing House. Her last book, İbrahim’in Beni Terketmesi (Leaving of Abraham), published in March 2008, was considered by the critics to be her best book ever. In that book, her new way of imagery was considered as mystique. She created a personal ontology and a personal mythology inspired by the thousands year of Sufi Tradition.

May 2009, she has published an album-book called Doğunun Kapısı: Diyarbakır (The Gate of East: Diyarbakir). The book is about the city called Diyarbakir, which is ancestral homeland of Kurdish and Armenian people. She has written a history of the city, which is nearly 3000 years old. Through her poetic text and the photos you can see the history of the city form ancient time to present. The book is considered by the critics, as one of the best book ever written about an Anatolian city.

In 2010, she published Kader Denizi (Sea of Fate) with the photographs taken by Mehmet Günyeli after the exhibition of Sea of Fate in the prestigious galleries in Istanbul and Ankara.

In February, 2011 she published her recent book called Dağın Ardına Bakmak (Looking Behind the Mountain) which is her first prose book.


When Bejan Matur’s first book of poems was published in Turkey in 1996, wining two prizes, it was hailed in the world of contemporary Turkish poetry as a ‘breath of fresh air’, innovative in language and content. A woman poet of Kurdish Alevi origin, born in Maraş, writing in Turkish, a voice sometimes childlike, sometimes ancient and disturbing, drawing imagery from unfamiliar tribal sources and mythologies to tell a history of families disrupted and displaced, against a windswept landscape, ‘a black rain’ of decay and death, darkness and harsh desolation.

 

In one of her essays Maureen Freely, Omar Pamuk's translator and President of English Pen, wrote: "to read Bejan Matur is to walk into a windswept desert strewn with bones and broken bodies and stones stained red by absent gods.  Nothing is whole; nothing explains itself; nothing lasts.  Horsemen gallop out of the night only to fade into the mountains on the horizon.  Gravestones line the roads.  Ruined houses howl with wind while shepherds sing dirges about a shattered, scattered tribe left to wander in the dark.

 

It is a haunted, desolate and fragmented landscape in which every stone glows with a grief beyond words.   One could say the same of the poems in this collection, and even of the poet herself.  These are not autobiographical works: Matur is writing about a people not a person.  Her poems are jagged shards that stand together only to expose history as a myth.

 

And it is possible, when reading her poems, to imagine what that might mean.  It is evident in their very shape, for Matur carves away at her images until she’s stripped them down to the anguish at their heart.  She claims no literary ancestors, drawing instead upon the oral traditions of her childhood."

 

Also the critic John Berger, wrote about the difficulty to categorise her poetry: "Impossible to describe her poetry in prose.  Its verbs have no tense,  its prepositions are like nouns, its own nouns are cries.  Its aim is to outwit nonsense by outflanking it.  It does so,  it succeeds.  Once everything was everything and so nothing existed.  This nothing then broke into fragments,  into shards which were real.  And on these existent shards were written obscure phrases,  which she,  the poet,  today transcribes.  The reader does not follow word by word,  but hand in hand, to touch and recognise piece after piece in the dark."

 

For Bejan Matur life and art is the same thing. Since 2005, she has worked as a journalist, regularly contributing articles and  pieces about Kurdish politics, Armenian news and culture, prison literature, and women’s issues. Matur is a former director of a cultural foundation called DKSV (Diyarbakır Cultural Art Foundation) and she has worked with displaced children and women.

 

Her poetry is strong and deep as her fights and travels, where words are doors opened to an universe  with no borders, no distances.