«Words can also give birth»: Müesser Yeniay

«God did not have to create the woman / God doesn’t know how to give birth» says a verse from the poem «Lament» of the young poet and Turkish translator Müesser Yeniay. In her poetry are recurrent themes such as feminism, the ravings of society, unrequited love, and sensuality.

17888405_10155003709151675_1803345036_nMüesser is a female voice born in Izmir, Turkey in 1984. He studied English Language and Literature at the University of Ege. His poems have been translated into Spanish, English, French, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Hindi and Romanian. She has been invited to several festivals around the world. Colombia came to the International Poetry Festival of Medellin in 2014. It has three  books poems: Darkness also falls sprayed (2009), I drew the sky again (2011), and Before me there were deserts (2014). He has also published an investigation: Turkish poetry of the avant-garde, the other consciousness: surrealism and the second new (2013).

Delivered on poetry, she has decided to return to the roots of Turkish poetry, which has been the subject of her most recent investigations.

From a distance, Müesser surprises with his long hair and sensuality, and although there is sensuality in his poetry, his poems are not as long as his hair. Choose a couple of words to throw as stones and the result is an intense work in feelings and images.

In Istanbul it was she who read my poems in Turkish during the Nazim Hikmet International Poetry Festival 2017, to which we were invited. We had small moments to have tea and to chat, and them lefts this interview.

You have published a thick book on Turkish avant-garde poetry. How long did it take you to do this investigation and what are the most important conclusions you have from this work?

As a young poet, I was grown up by reading the works of Turkish avant-garde “the Second New”. And personally I was fascinated by the philosophy of surrealism since my early years. So in my masters, I studied on their relation with a great enthusiasm. It is also a placement of the modern poetry in my eyes. It took one year just writing it but before, I did a good amount of reading on the topic.

Müesser Yeniay retratada por el fotógrafo alemán Dirk Skiba. Berlín, 2017.

Maybe known, maybe not, Turkish literary history lies between Şiraz (Iran) and Paris (France) as the Turkish poet Yahya Kemal put it. So I tried to examine this huge realm of change in this work. And I turned out to learn that the second new movement is much more interested in the poetic and literary side. The aims of using the image in surrealism and the second new are completely different. The first aims to understand the whole human-being as a unity by sub-conscious and also uses language as a lantern for those dark parts. But The second new uses that approach just for poetic reasons.

what does a poet learn by translating another poet?

Every good poem is a lesson for a poet. It teaches how to write poetry from the beginning. So, translation is a kind of ecole for me. It is also the name of the feeling that I wrote this poem myself. Because in every well-written poem, we feel that we wrote that poem ourselves. Since it is like a mirror which shows us our soul in the shape of words.

What is your relationship with contemporary Hispanic poetry? Affinities? Meetings?

In Turkish, I published an anthology of Contemporary Spanish Poetry with Jaime B. Rosa and Metin Cengiz. And my book in Spain has been published both in Spain by Edicion de Jaime B. Rosa (2016) and in Colombia by Silaba Edicion (2016). The poet and translator Rafael Patiño Goez wrote a great introduction for the book. I am glad my voice is not heard just in the ears of Turkish people. I believe like the old Greek poet and thinker Meleagros saying that “The world that we live on is the only country, my friend and we are the children of the same chaos”

You play the soul in each poem. You speak firmly about the issues that overwhelm you. How has poetry transformed you?

In one of my poems, I say, “Only when I write poetry, my soul dances. Only then all the places, time and possibility belong to me. This is the joy of existence! The door of dream is waiting to be opened, that place is sole conscience just like God.”

Most of the time, I feel like the Sharazad of “One Thousand and One Night” stories though I write poetry in terms of the dreaming side of it and I can say I can’t enjoy anything other than this. Aristotle says in his poetics “finding similarities by metaphors is a sign of intelligence” and I feel great joy while discovering those similarities which we call metaphors and finding a new mouth to tell the state I am in. Metaphors (or poets) are the master teachers of language.

As a result, as to your question about transformation, I can say I became what I love: Poetry.

Muesser by Dirk Skiba
Müesser Yeniay by german photografer Dirk Skiba. Berlín, 2017.

In your poems every word is in its place. How did you arrive at this level of precision and accuracy?

Actually, since my teenage years I am just engaged in one thing, in poetry like translation, poetry criticism, phd in poetry, festival readings, and etc. I personally have great joy in reading early Turkish classics like Rumi, Fuzuli, Yunus Emre and modern ones like Ahmet Hâşim, Asaf Hâlet Çelebi. I have a strong poetic bound with the Eastern culture. So reading those master poets gave me great insight for my own being and poetic discourse. I think choice of reading decides what kind of a poet you would like to be. I can say, with all these poetic inclinations, I am the best young voice of current Turkish poetry.

In your poems there is melancholy, also a certain resentment or emptiness towards the maternal figure. How to deal with these issues artistically without the sincerity or intimacy betraying the level of your poems?

In some sense, poetry is like grabbing a stone and throwing it to the thing or person that harms you. My words are mostly like the spears. And they need some intense point to start action. I wait for the fermentation of my feelings in words. Silence and loneliness gives a good chance to this internal intensity. For example, when I find any injustice, any disturbance, anything not put into words, I start writing. I am a minority and I examine mostly those topics either politically or poetically.

About the maternal figure, it is the start and head of life. You start life with a woman, it doesn’t matter if you are a male or female and that woman decides your whole life ahead shaping your personality. And that lack, I can say, shaped my personality and I found peace and place in words. Words also can give birth, care and become your family.

How did the writing of your poetry evolve?

Actually, when I first started writing poetry, I was reading lots of contemporary poetry magazines, thinking that they have the best examples of poetry. But when I discovered and amazed by the classics of poetry, I gave up that idea and understood that those are not poetry at all.

Some people think my early poems are more chaotic and depressed. Now I feel I have a clear sight and better place now. I feel more comfortable with the pen and paper. Virginia Woolf says, “Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river” I guess I have read many thousands for this comfort in language and mind.

What are the issues that obsess you today?

I can say my poetry has some different faces such as feminist, existentialist, mystic and softly erotic. My latest poems examines those soft erotic side of woman and the relation of two bodies, the impossibilities and possibilities. It is also the alchemy of love but from a feminine perspective. I also write on the inequalities in this relationship of power that is called love. For example on why women should be in good shape in order to be loved.

Tell me about your literary projects? Are you writing any new research book or book of poems?

I have been working on my soon to be published poetry book titled “Permanent Talk with the Beloved” and also on my phd thesis on Turkish poetics. I also go on giving poetry readings around the world.

Talking with Müesser. Estambul, 2017.
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