So much for the Christmas catch-up!

The plan to blog on all the wonderful exhibitions, films, plays, walks, places, encounters, books, poetry readings, workshops, parties, concerts, gatherings, groups, insights, dreams, conversations, conferences, travels, people and other events of 2016 gave way to me stuffing the paper trail – tickets, programmes, invites, diary entries, notes on napkins – into a zip-up plastic wallet in order to clear the decks for the business of 2017.

The poem that comes to mind is Turkish poet, Edip Cansever’s Masa da masaymış ha.  It’s a poem that equates the abundance and diversity of life with ‘the gladness of living’.

My 2016 table had the same mixture of seemingly random objects on it and yes, ‘Bir iki sallandı durdu’ – literally, ‘one two it shook it stopped’ ie ‘Once or twice it shook then stopped’.  The verb ‘sallamak’ can mean swing, sway, jiggle, joggle, lurch or wobble, the ‘n’ makes it passive.  Yes, 2016 certainly jiggled, joggled and lurched – or had those things done to it.

There’s a translation of the poem in the Essential Poems from the Staying Alive Trilogy – a anthology I consider a mainstay for anyone working in poetry therapy.  Actually, if you only own one book of poetry, this, imo, should be it.

Here’s the translation by Julia Clare Tillinghurst and Richard Tillinghurst (missing a stanza break, four lines up from the bottom).

In this version, the line above is translated as ‘It wobbled once or twice, then stood firm.’  Edip Cansever’s title is rendered as ‘Table’ instead of the more evocative ‘Now that’s what a call a table’ of the original, or as I might have translated it, ‘There’s a table and a half’, ‘That table’s a real table’ or …

As usual, I wonder why this poem comes to mind.  I saw a dear friend from Istanbul in London just before twelfth night. We’ve been friends since the late 80s when I lived in the city for three years. The Turkey we knew then with its plurality, liberal values, freedoms (alongside, I know, the oppression of Kurdish and Armenian cultures) and Western-looking attitudes, is disappearing.  He tells me the bustle of cinemas, theatres, bars and restaurants along Istiklal Caddesi is giving way to boarded-up shops and for sale signs.  Newspapers have been closed, journalists imprisoned and tens of thousands of academics and public servants sacked.

On a more cheerful note, I’m getting back to work on some translation so again individual words are speaking to me, telling me their stories and explaining their nuances as I pay attention to their provenance and try to identify their destinations from a syntax where north and south might be reversed.

And as for tables, here are two from our Twelfth Night party on the 5th January.  So many things on these tables and that’s even before the food, drink and people.  I made Russian and Georgian food, ‘translated’ into English ingredients.

Leave A Comment