Poems by Hasan ERKEK, Turkey


Hasan ERKEK, Turkey

Hasan Erkek, as a poet, a playwright and a professor of drama, he has been awarded more than 20 national and international prizes. He published 26 artistic and scientific books in 14 different countries. His poetry books have been published in Turkey, France, Bulgaria, Cameroon and Romania. Some his poems have been composed by different composers from different countries.

His works in his academic career have focused on the art of drama. His plays were performed by more than 40 theatres from different countries, including primarily Turkish national theatres. Furthermore, he wrote radio plays (approximately 20 radio plays were broadcast by national radios in Turkey) and film scripts (some of them were filmed). One of his specialization fields is theatre for children. Hasan Erkek took part and presented papers in many international theatre festivals and symposia. He has more than a hundred articles published in various journals and newspapers.

He has been giving play reading, dramaturgy, dramatization, creative writing, drama techniques and contemporary theatre courses in various departments of universities.

Hasan Erkek has worked as an Executive Board Member and Vice-president in ASSITEJ Turkey, and the president of Turkish Playwrights and Play Translators Association as well as the Head of the Department of Performing Arts at Anadolu University.


translated from the Turkish by Numan Kılıç and Jonathan Ross


A winter morning breaks, kissing your forehead with its cold lips
awakening you from serene dreams
while the wind rests its wings on your window
from the misty horizon looms the sun hazy-eyed,
not that you can have a stretch and raise a smile

Snow must have frozen on the roofs and puddles turned to ice on the roads
even your latest photographs you consign to the past
a cord of sorrow wrapped around your waist, you gaze at your silhouette on a tea glass
while a cello concerto strolls around the walls of your room
the sun will always rise, that’s for sure,
not that you can brush away your worries into the light

Standing across from your mind is a long-expected lover
even if she had come, she wouldn’t have been robed in poetry
out of nothing, her crystal voice would have lost its clarity
the thin ankles of her words would have sprained
for everything there is but one answer, inscribed in the membrane of the tongue,
not that she will reveal it or you discover it

Mornings bereft of love are eyelids deprived of sleep
you resent the darkness that clings to those mornings
and recall more cheerful days,
friendships in the distant backyards of your memory,
songs echoing in wells,
every last one of them piling up on you as each year follows the previous
you will come to terms with it all, that’s for sure,
not that life grants you a gentle breeze, a chance to rest


City – Poet – Poetry

translated from the Turkish by İdil Karacadağ

This city has exhausted me
sick of running into myself at every corner
tired of stepping over my own footprints

My eyelids have become heavy
searching for familiar feeling in strange faces

My childhood’s wind blowing along its streets is gone
I buried all that happened in my heart
patiently steeling myself for worse to come

As I walked past bars
lamenting songs gripped my chest uninvited
I was cities apart from my own voice

Up and down its streets I sought something to search
I found my youth shred to ribbons in its shopfronts

A portrait of my life emerged on its muddy roads
So often I read my own obituary on noticeboards

The days kept following the nights
the nights dragged the days towards themselves
no sight of land appeared in time

I am exhausted by this city
I should have made a river gush out of my pen
a river that would have cleansed all cities

Still, one must tend to the poem in the heart
wash the streets of this town with poetry
and turn on all the lights of the city within me

Snow Song

translated from the Turkish by İdil Karacadağ
It’s snowing
And so your colour coats the city I live in
The streets’ eyebrows are tinged with grey
The avenues look wiser now
Quiet songs caress the ear
You are not here
As far removed from me as summer
Snow falls on the distance between us
On black and white memories snow falls

Your warm coat protected my dreams from the wind
Which flew away too in the blizzard of lovelessness
Icy seperation
Mist dissipating
Our white footprints fading
Now an old record spins in the emptiness
Snow falls on our voices
Our words hang upon pine branches

Your hands are not here anymore, neither are your gloves
Your hat in the same colour as my scarf is gone
Birds fed on the half eaten simit in my pocket
The birds are not here anymore
Your breath warming up my hands is not here
We threw the last snowball at the back of our love
now snow falls on letters without destination
You are seasons, cities, poems away
The snow will fall
On our voices
Our song
Our lives


“On Living”[1]

translated from the Turkish by İdil Karacadağ
Anything can happen to anyone
those daisies you plucked from precipices for years
may suddenly scatter and fall
the river may diverge from its habitual bed

Anything can happen to anyone
walking whistling along the street
the sidewalks of a trusted city might run out
a sudden storm or a violent flood
a tornado might tear joy off the ground

Anything can happen to anyone
no point greeting everything with flowers
but a melancholy smile to be used when necessary
must be ready at all times in the pocket of patience
a bit of the sky must be set aside too, of course
to view through half-open eyes at moments of defat

Anything can happen to anyone
one must always keep at the ready
a well-sharpened pencil
a poem to recite on bad days
an old lover’s letter, first to be saved in case of fire
and a shroud and water and soap

Anything can happen to anyone
one must embrace the wounds of love and friendship

display them fearlessly to friend and foe
but without exultation
always keeping in mind
anything can happen no matter who you are
because you are human
and when it does
“what choice do we have but to be human”[2]



translated from the Turkish by İdil Karacadağ

I am always looking at the shore
The half-sank boat you are in
The sea undulates
Droplets of light above the waves
The lengthening wavering reflection of your face
Your eyes, multiplying the sorrow of the sea
Are singing a song of ice
Though your broken voice sends no S.O.S
I lower a lifeboat from my voice

How does it feel to open yourself to the sea
And close yourself completely to sunflowers

Taking the waters’ dark face for life
Studying the science of enigmatic depths
Making your hair a shield to the north wind
Even if you don’t want me to, I try to understand
I lower a lifeboat from my mind

Daylight darkens
The ship descends to the bottom
The horizon effaced, the gap bridged
All is covered by fog
Memory, moments, words
And you, the meticulous worker of joy
Your breath must be getting colder now
I will save you, even if you don’t expect it
I lower a lifeboat from my heart


[1] Nazım Hikmet
[2] Edip Cansever


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