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In The Temple Of A Patient God

Authors: Bejan Matur

Published by Arc Publications

ISBN: 9781900072960

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In the Temple of a Patient God
Translated by Ruth Christie with an introduction by Maureen Freely
Visible Poets series no. 12, parallel-text edition

“To read Bejan Matur is to walk into a windswept desert strewn with bones and broken bodies and stones stained red by absent gods. Nothing is whole; nothing explains itself; nothing lasts. Horsemen gallop out of the night only to fade into the mountains on the horizon. Gravestones line the roads. Ruined houses howl with wind while shepherds sing dirges about a shattered, scattered tribe left to wander in the dark. It is a haunted, desolate and fragmented landscape in which every stone glows with a grief beyond words...”

“[Matur's] poems are jagged shards that stand together only to expose history as a myth. But it is still possible to see them as children of her childhood (she comes from a Kurdish Alevi family and grew up in south-eastern Turkey at a time of virtual civil war). And it is possible, when reading her poems, to imagine what that might mean. It is evident in their very shape, for Matur carves away at her images until she's stripped them down to the anguish at their heart. She claims no literary ancestors, drawing instead upon the oral traditions of her childhood...”

“It is almost as if her words are themselves gods, animating everything they inhabit. And here we come to the central paradox of Matur's poetry. Matur does not write in Kurdish, the banned, and therefore private, language of her early childhood. She writes in Turkish, the language in which she was educated — one might almost say exiled... She talks on the one hand of her Turkish being stronger than her Kurdish. And then she talks of the way in which dead languages lurk inside living languages. Words never forget their spiritual histories... She speaks of cutting her poems back and back, shaving them down to the bone until she has found the old word inside the new word, the Turkish poem that owes its haunting power to Kurdish.”

“So she is chipping and carving for a reason. Her dedication to this cause is absolute, and it takes her far beyond the questions raised by her own history. And it's this that makes her a world poet of the highest order.”

- Maureen Freely (from her Introduction to In the Temple of an Ancient God)

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