Tuğrul Tanyol

Tuğrul Tanyol

Tuğrul Tanyol is born in İstanbul – Turkey in 1953. He studied Sociology at the Bosphorus University and is now an associate professor at the Yeditepe University – İstanbul. He is considered one of the leading figures of the new poetry of the 80’s. He published seven books of poetry: Elinden Tutun Günü “Catch the Day by its Hand” (1983); Ağustos Dehlizleri “The Labyrinths of August” (1985, Necatigil Prize); Sudaki Anka “The Phoenix in the Water” (1990); Oda Müziği “Chamber Music” (1992); İhanet Perisinin Soğuk Sarayı “The Cold Palace of the Faithless Nymph” (1995) followed by Büyü Bitti “The Magic Has Gone” (2000); The six books together in one volume in 2008: Collected Poems 2000-1971; and Her Şey Bir Mevsim “Everything is a Season” (2006). A selection of his poems has been published in Madrid by Verbum in 2003 “Los Laberintos de agosto y otros poemas”.

In the 80’s Tanyol collaborated in publishing two influential poetry reviews: Üç Çiçek and Poetika. He participated in the publishing of the art magazine “E”. From 2000-2004 he worked as counselor to YKY Publishing House and been in the board of editors of the Kitap-lık, Cogito; and Sanat Dünyamız reviews. He also collaborated in Özgür Edebiyat “Free Literature” magazine.

Tuğrul Tanyol is also the author of many literary articles and critical essays published in the mainstream reviews and newspapers.

Tanyol was a founding member of the Beyoğlu Poetry Festival in İstanbul “Şiirİstanbul” (2006 and 2007). He also worked as the founding director of the ongoing International Poetry Festival in İstanbul.

He has been invited to various literary meetings and festivals around the world.


for Işıl


On a distant shore I’m shivering with you
where the waves crash, the cloud ripped to shreds
I know the sea bleeding with fiery rocks
your burnt out suns

On a distant shore there I stand
your treeless house with its smoking chimney
your picture drawn on the wind, time
scatters its howling and advances

On a distant shore promises broken
while rain pierced my chest with huge drops
I was ruined there, there was no you
and there a likeness of you was carved
on the stones by bitter winds, cold, unattainable . . . Where are you?

On a distant shore your salt burned my blood
flowing into evening, red, clotted and icy
from my wounds opened by your heavy whips,
my heart turned into a statue

On a distant shore I’m shivering with you
where the waves crash, the cloud rippeds to shreds

Tuğrul Tanyol
© translation by Ruth Christie & Richard McKane


(The plight of the poet in Turkey is
compared to Prince Cem’s misfortunes.)

To Mehmet Müfit

The day faded, red drops gleaming in its skirts.
I wandered night’s eroded garden
In a yellow rain, enclosed by endless rocks,
Memories shaking my heart, the copper smell of flight,
My childhood a throne room, my sultanate lost in Bursa.
All the gates closed, every gate a wall.
I turned, I saw that great mirror reflecting
The migrant rain where being and nothingness merge.

The day faded, red drops gleaming in its skirts.
There were no gates at my coming. Sunset, the quay
The sunken hulls off Rhodes.
Through my galley’s swollen beams I heard the wind’s etched whisper
Cross the vast waters of my face.

High hills there, here steep and bitter ways,
A horse’s neigh, dark scent of rose,
Secret passages under temple ruins
And the chorus of petrified dead in musty cellars.
Who goes there? unwary traveller in this spring dawn
And virgins walking in white winding-sheets.

Suddenly lightning! gates appeared and vanished
Defeat and pain, flight and exile. With the copper smell
Of loneliness rising in time’s lost mirror,
This curse forged on my brow, this unknown journey,
I felt a thousand redhot irons sear my flesh
My body hanging from dark crenels –
Myself a spring dawn’s sacrificial victim.

Suddenly rain! one half of my face washed away.
Lead seals me eyeless! These are my bridal gifts
A bass wind moans in the desolate hollows
The desolate caves of my eyes – whose turn now?
All my mates hanged from the drowned rigging of my sunken ship
Oh my Celal! dear Sinan!
Where does this sea flow? We alone are left
Rain blots out all the gates.

I, Cem, till yesterday ruled half an empire.
My image faded on the coins I minted
I died a thousand deaths, I watched my own corpse
Striking the shore.
I walked with greasy ropes about my neck (sunset, the quay,
The sunken hulls off Rhodes) and now
The world has no more place for me
No house or palace, neither throne nor rank.
Give me your hand, old brother, let me near,
Take me in, have me strangled if you need,
Part of me totally dark, part suddenly rain!

Days were buried in a forest’s soundless scream,
In the bottomless wells of its heart. Courage:
The darkness behind my eyes is a haunted land
– I’ll never reach.

The day faded, red drops gleaming in its skirts,
A horse’s neigh, dark scent of rose
And no gates at my arrival.
I was stranded in lost time,
The gates were erased, I was left outside.
In this cold, this darkness of desolation,
I am alone, my hands my only light.

Tuğrul Tanyol
© translation by Ruth Christie


Faded pictures of doves leaning from the dawn of day
(what do I mean? timeless verb forms of the perfect present)
the rose touching your hand, the melody touching night
sketched on air by a tattered cloud

We are, however, where we started between zero and infinity
in the midst of infinite numbers (how simple it is
that two follows one) captive and mortal
frozen and falling into a vacuum: dead!

The curve traced by a string when it breaks
pictures of ships overflowing from the eye’s chart
all sailing in different directions, all . . .
there, torn to shreds, the drawn curtains of the wind

They might all be a sea port
where the mainlands meet,
like a naked body shaded by palm trees.
parts of a girl exposed as she lies outstretched.

Tuğrul Tanyol
© translation by Ruth Christie & Richard McKane


the curtain came down, dust flew about, tears became rain
as blossom fell from the tree summer came
and went, I missed it, only a lingering sound,
sea pounding on the beach
and you asleep.

ah, how soundly you slept and summer
not wanting to spoil your sleep
had to run through a door on tiptoe.
the dust had not yet settled
the blossom not yet fallen
and I, as though bewitched, looked only at you

all summer!

Tuğrul Tanyol
© translation by Ruth Christie


Cherry time. Climb the tree
and throw away the frayed days of ecstasy
the sensual touch of a snake
cool and trembling on your cheek.

Rocks, the night’s breaking point
on this blue map that gets you nowhere
What water will be your water of life?
What river carry you
with your hair the colour of the Nile
to my dried up seas?

How can we find again the rock that’s become sand?
Go back to the sea, cloudy with the dust of sunken ships.
Come to my parched lips
with the bleached down of your arms.

Cherry time, gardens, thorny loneliness
go like a cloud, the boundless breadth beyond the peak
the footprints of the mountains
the small wood of junipers on the plain
sand and pebbles are ebbing away in your deep eyes

Rocks, the night’s breaking point
Now on all the maps – torn asunder.

Tuğrul Tanyol
© translation by Richard McKane

Published with the permission of Tuğrul Tanyol