Thiruvananthapuram: Turkish poet Ataol Behramoglu, who arrived at Kritya International Poetry Festival 2017 after a 12-hour sleepless flight, was so tired, that he was nodding off during the interview. However, the 75-year-old looked fired up, when the organizers told him that there was a poetry recital session at Central Prison, Poojappura. “It is an important session. I will be able to see the impact of poetry on people,” he said.
The poem he chose for Central Prison was ‘I’ve learned some things’. “That poem is more famous than I am,” says the poet, whose works have been translated into several languages. He too has spent time in prison, after the 1980 Turkish coup d'état. “A few friends and I were arrested as ‘terrorists’, after the fascist military coup in Turkey in 1980, which was against all progressive movements and persons,” he said.
In contrast to the grimness of the times he was in, many of his works capture everyday life in all its humorous glory. For example, the lines that follow his piece titled ‘Pregnant Woman’s Song’ have nothing of the motherhood clichés perpetuated in popular culture. Instead there is a cleaning woman complaining about the fourth child she is pregnant with.
“I have written strong political poems when I was young, and will continue to write such poems. I do it because it is my duty to give courage and hope to people. However a poet cannot limit him/herself about writing on social issues. He should write about feelings of ordinary people. A young factory worker woman who has fallen in love should find something in my works,” he said.