Judy Light Ayyildiz

Judy Light Ayyildiz

Judy Light Ayyildiz has taught creative writing to all age groups and education levels for many years. For 13 of those years she was an editor and board member of Artemis, Artists and Writers from the Blue Ridge and she was a founding board member for the Blue Ridge Writers Conference. Judy has a BA in Music Education from Marshall University, an MA in Liberal Arts & also an MA in Creative Writing from Hollins University.

Her books of poetry are First Recital (chapbook, Leisure Publishing), Smuggled Seeds (Gusto Press Poet Discovery Winner) and Mud River (Lintel Press, republished by Authors Guild). She co-authored four supplementary texts for students and teachers with Rebekah Woodie: Skyhooks and Grasshopper Traps (Skyhooks Publications), Creative Writing across the Curriculum, Easy Ideas for Busy Teachers (Frank Schaffer) and the Writers’ Express (TS Denison). These textbooks for students and teachers grew from her extensive work in educating students of all ages to write creatively. She received numerous grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts as a “Writer in the Schools.”

Her memoir Nothing but Time (XLibris) focuses on the importance of story within to bring courage and healing, and it highlights Judy’s West Virginia youth and her life as a Southwest Virginian. Some of My Ancestors are Ottomans and Turks (Greenhouse Books, Istanbul) was her first children’s book.

Judy Light Ayyildiz has published poetry, short stories, articles, reviews, in anthologies and in literary magazines such as New York Quarterly, Mickle Street Review, the new renaissance, Sow’s Ear, Piedmont Literary Review, Pig Iron Press, Lonesome Travelers Publishers, Clique Calm Books, Turkish Times, Turkish Torque, McGuffin Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Artemis, Black Water Review, Roanoke Review, The Northeast Journal, Kalliope and others. She has been the recipient of various grants, honors, and awards.

She has completed her first novel, Forty Thorns, based on the life and times of her Turkish mother-in-law. In 2007, a short story and a poem of Judy’s were translated into Italian for an international women’s anthology, published in Italy. She has been a fiction finalist for the Summer Literary Seminars, St. Petersburg, Russia, Roanoke YWCA 2007 nominee for the “Women in the Arts” award, winner of the Turkish Forum award, the Daughters of Ataturk “Distinguished Service” award, a fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a Virginia College Stores Association Annual Book Award Finalist. An essay on the inner-weaving of Judy’s life, with selections of her published work, was included in the 2-2008 international women’s anthology Women Dialogue (Cambridge Scholars Press) and was a 2009 award and published winner of the Nazim Hikmet Festival poetry contest.

Please visit her web site: http://www.judylightayyildiz.com

1986 – Southern Coast of Turkey

from Nothing but Time, a memoir of Triumph over Trauma

We drove from Antalya to Alanya past rock beaches, pebble beaches, brown sand, gray sand, calm turquoise waters where creeks and rivers rush to the sea, past Hellenistic castles, Byzantine churches and Selcuk castles. There, we flew high above waters, no guardrails.

Beyond Antalya, the wheat fields were burning, turning the stubs of what was liquid glow blowing in the early summer sun to black, burning off the gold, making ash in the air—the leaping flames mandarin against the molten dusk—the ponderous smoke, the rushing cars. No visions of our past could intrude on that scene; it was so much to take in. The fields were alive with a ghost dance. The air was all hemp, brown crust and ash.

Gypsies clustered by the creeks, their tents heaped up like unmade beds, their skinny children running and playing tag. Migrant workers, they were there to lay the wheat in bundles, to tie and heave them onto wooden wagons. Horses toted them to town to be bread and so, with the rubble and stubs of crew cuts in the dusk, the Gypsies remained again free with lira to dance and drink in the sunset while cars cut through matted smoke mixed with exhaust fumes. The wide lands lay blackened for another day.

In and near towns, the fat, absolutely fearless white, crusty chickens came to the roadside and darted close to whirling tires. They were skilled in finding what they needed to survive, hardly ever was one of them off in their timing, their legs so quick near the rolling wheels. Dedicated to their task, they seemed oblivious to pedestrian or passenger. Obviously, the hens brought their brood as soon as they were feathered and the little ones caught on fast. Inbred from years of the modern rush, those chickens had no need to get to the other side.

In Antalya, my children and I walked barefoot on the pebble beach, all round colored stones ground by the tides and pitched back onto the shore, stones fallen from the mountains that leer out over the Mediterranean. The stones hurt our feet but it was too wonderful not to walk there. We chose some to bring home: brown laced with white, blue with black pits and jade green. The whole afternoon wrapped us in a concert of wind and colors. The giants of marble and agate loomed above us. Storms of many seasons had torn at them, continually stealing jagged bits of their hard bone, gradually honing mountain to pebble—in time to sand.

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Published with the permission of Judy Light Ayyildiz