Piece appears below in English and the original Turkish.
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar (1901–1962), a renowned 20th-century Turkish author, poet, essayist, intellectual, and educator, wrote two of the finest works in modern Turkish literature: The Time Regulation Institute and A Mind at Peace. In fellow Turkish author Orhan Pamuk’s 2006 Nobel Literature Prize acceptance speech, he thanked Tanpınar for his considerable influence and inspiration as a literary icon.
Şükrü Erbaş was born when, as his mother said, “the vineyards were boiling”—that is, when the pekmez (a traditional grape syrup) was being made. He grew up among those vineyards and wheat fields and apple orchards, deep in the Anatolian countryside, in the town of Yozgat, not far from the ruins of the ancient capital of the Hittites.
Erbaş’s reputation in Turkish poetry hasn’t strayed far from the geography he grew up in, neither from its idyllic beauty nor from its brutal poverty and neglect. But while Erbaş doesn’t shy away from the politics or economic struggles of the long-suffering Anatolian people, he’s not reducible to a mere political or a nature poet. His reviewers usually accord him something like the status of a poet of witness. Poet-critic Şeref Bilsel calls Erbaş a socialist poet without slogans, one who doesn’t say “I need to speak” but rather “I have heard.”
One morning we hike a few miles to a nomad’s camp on an isolated island off Turkey’s southern coast. The hike is uphill, hot, and arduous. We pass the ruins of a Roman cistern and a dry-land tortoise headed downhill. After an hour the path levels out into a broad valley and we arrive. Only the woman is home. Her name is Hanife.
Inside Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence and other Turkish wonders
Some places become museums because they’re ruins. Other museums are houses built to hold the relics.
In fifth century Constantinople, believers built a small Greek Orthodox chapel called The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora. The Greek chora refers to the church’s place in the fields outside the city’s thick defensive walls. Rebuilt, restored, destroyed, and raised again over the centuries, the church became a truly glorified house of God in the fourteenth century under the stewardship of a powerful intellectual named Theodore Metochites, whose vision and funds decorated the interior with some of the finest mosaics and frescoes remaining from Byzantine times.