Bahri Çokkardeş

Sessizliğin İzleri - Traces of Silence by Bahri Çokkardeş

Bahri Çokkardeş’ distinctive voice among contemporary Turkish poets, drew on his reluctance to immerse himself in the practicalities of everyday life and his philosophical interrogations of withdrawal from the world of practical concerns, material things and ordinary life patterns, most people assume to be contingent and true, without critical reflection. He was closely associated with Akatalpa, a poetry and criticism journal published in Bursa, Turkey where he lived until his death in fall 2009. He was the son of an immigrant family originally from Bosnia. Close inspection of his poems offers a unique look into alternative, existential possibilities inherent in the starry skies and the heavenly bodies. His poetry collections include Poems Forsaken in the Heart of Night (İz, 1998) and Traces of Silence (Yom, 2006). Though a reclusive, solitary figure, Çokkardeş’ poems have been featured in many Turkish literary magazines, including Varlık, Sonsuzluk ve Bir Gün, Akatalpa, Dize, Aykırı Sanat and Mavi.

Translations below by Nesrin Eruysal and Ken Fifer whom have had translations of contemporary Turkish poetry published in The Wolf (UK), Visions International, Qarrtsiluni, Silk Road, Söyleşi Üç Aylık Şiir Dergisi (Turkey) and in The Literary Review.

Nesrin Eruysal is a literary scholar and translator, and editor of Söyleşi Üç Aylık Şiir Dergisi (part of The Conversation International Poetry Project).

Ken Fifer is a Professor of English at Penn State Berks. His fifth collection of poetry, Architectural Conditions: A Collaboration (Interarts Press, 2012), with the architect Larry Mitnick, has just been published.

The Sermon on the Moon

by Bahri Çokkardeş

September went by slowly
Water lengthened, rains fell
The night wind warded off its dark spots

Having woken from its shadow
Set an ambush for the sun
That groundless melancholy loner

Sightless voices gathered
I saw the masks
Of the invisible times

Remember there used to be
Old dreams spilled from the moon

Tightly closed doors
Darkening lights

A momentary eclipse
The moon in the mirror

© Translation from Turkish by Nesrin Eruysal and Ken Fifer

Secret Dream

by Bahri Çokkardeş

When I entered the night in secret
The sun was falling and the rain had ceased
I touched my dream in silence

Where I walked filled with voices
I talked to them as best I could
I was a tree and also a forest
My face searched for a face of its own

Despite the devil
Shadows break with light

I remained alone
And found you in my loneliness
As if smiling through pitch-black eyes
You told me to give up all hope

© Translation from Turkish by Nesrin Eruysal and Ken Fifer

The Seer

by Bahri Çokkardeş

Not even a merciless seer
Let alone a messenger
Asked after me

Silence stabbed
In nightmarish dreams
Of loneliness in obscure retreats

I heard
big echoes
of faint voices

The sun’s mask is off

© Translation from Turkish by Nesrin Eruysal and Ken Fifer

A Moment of Abstraction

by Bahri Çokkardeş

My loneliness
Didn’t make me wait

Time picked up
Dead angels
From fairy tales

God didn’t question
his belated envoy

Whose shadow stood
In my dreams

A night shining
In the moonlight

A moment of abstraction
The sun’s reflection on the window

Pouring into the desolate room
Boneless soul of time

Shadow music played
By love our sad master

© Translation from Turkish by Nesrin Eruysal and Ken Fifer

Published with the permission of Ken Fifer and Nesrin Eruysal