Literature as a European mother tongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD omnibus reading tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring 100 authors who will be travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist from Istanbul looks like, meet Zeynep Köylü!
Have you ever participated in collaborative author/reader projects? If so, what do you find interesting about them?
I have participated in various readings and exchange programs, however I did not have the chance to be part of a collaborative project. Actually, I do believe in co-writing. My master thesis I have been working on for the past years is a reflection of this idea. That the poet can expand beyond his/her self, that he /she can come together with other subjectivities through a different language and style is something that I have been reflecting on for a while. So, I think it would be a good idea to be a part of a co-production. Also, I like the idea of having my work come together with other disciplines. The Filmpoem project, which I had the chance to follow during Felix Poetry Festival in Antwerp inspired me. It was a wonderful experience to watch poetry.
What is your favorite literary spot in Istanbul? (literary venue, bar, meeting area, city, etc.)
Istanbul, the city I live in, is fascinating and enchanting in many ways. This city of contrasts and contradictions offers many inspirations that can evoke poetry. Actually, anything can inspire me – a film, an exhibition that I’ve seen or simply a place… For instance, the islands of Istanbul are particularly poetic spaces for me. One of my poems, “Island and Sebastian” was inspired by Heybeliada, one of the most beautiful islands of Istanbul. At a hidden part of the island there is a place called Terk-i Dünya that means “leaving the world behind”. This is a place where people abandon their horses they have used for years as carriage horses to die. The Finnish director Sebastian Boulter and I walked on that part of the island. He was visiting Turkey for a documentary project and he wanted me to read one of my poems in the midst of the horses. He filmed that scene. It was as if we were walking in the subconscious of the island. When I listened to the sounds and silence of the island, I wrote this poem.
Which recent literary event fascinated you the most and why?
I was invited to a Poetry Festival called “Altan Guruus” in Mongolia in 2012. It was such an unusual experience for me. The Gobi desert was especially magical. We stayed in traditional tents that Mongolians call the “ger” and read our poetry. During my travels in the Gobi desert what impressed me the most were the ruins of monasteries. One of them was a monastery that was demolished by the Soviets. The only thing left of that monastery was a red mound with lama bones here and there. A Mongolian poet told me the story of that demolished monastery with a face full of sorrow. He was murmuring instead of talking. I was listening to the secret sounds of the bones, the sweeping of the sand in the wind. The monastery was like a big horse sitting in its own ruins. I wrote a poem there. Thus the poem titled “The Dream of the Ruins” was born in the desert.
How do you feel about readers’ comments and feedback on your texts? Does it affect / alter your subsequent writing?
Of course I like getting feedback and comments regarding my work. Seeing your verses and images being transferred into another language, another culture is a great feeling. But I can hardly say that these comments have an impact on my future writing.
Photo © Erdenebulgan