Slamming the pages of Lotus, the now defunct magazine of the Afro-Asian Writers' Association published in Arabic, English, and French, one comes across names such as Chinua Achebe, Mahmoud Darwish, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, and Antonio Jacinto, names which have marked the history of world literature and become synonyms for writing that is both engaged and engaging. The Turkish poet Ataol Behramoglu was awarded the Lotus literature prize in 1981 for his achievements. By then he had published not less than seven poetry collections, which had established him as Nazim Hikmets main heir: in other words, as an advocate of a socially engaged and revolutionary poetry that does not hold back from exploring even the most intimate realms of human experience. In a critique published the same year, Behramoglu argued that the role of poetry was "to defend truth, humaneness, healthfulness and beauty against the lies spread through the mass media by imperialism and the false and fake sensitivities it creates."1 Like many Turkish intellectuals for whom poetics had to rhyme with politics, he paid a harsh price for his socialist and pacifist convictions. In the dark years that followed the 1980 military coup, Behramoglu was imprisoned for eleven months during the trial of the Turkish Peace Society, a non-governmental organization that militated for world peace and disarmament.
Ataol Behramoglu's biography is a testimony to his internationalist engagement, which subverts both cultural borders in Turkey and political borders in the world. He was born in C^atalca, a district of Istanbul, on April 13, 1942, and because of his father's

changing appointments as an agricultural engineer, spent his childhood in various places in Turkey, including Kars, well known to Orhan Pamuk readers, and the central Anatolian town of Qankm. Behramoglu studied Russian literature and graduated from Ankara University in 1966, one year after the publication of his first poetry collection, Bir Ermeni General (An Armenian General). In 1962, while he was a student, he joined the Turkish Workers' Party and accepted various responsibilities in this young political organization. His next collection, Bir Gun Mutlaka (One Day Surely), published in 1969, became a milestone of Turkish socialist poetry. Throughout the sixties and seventies he edited various influential, yet ephemeral, socialist culture magazines such as Halktn Dostlari (The Friends of the People), which he published with fellow poet Ismet Ozel, and Militan (The Militant), edited with his brother Nihat Behram, himself an acclaimed poet and novelist. Behramoglu was also one of the founders of Sanat Emegi (The Labor of Art), an influential socialist monthly. During the early seventies, he lived in London, Paris, and Moscow, where he conducted research on Russian literature at Moscow State University. Returning to Turkey in 1974, he joined the Turkish State Theatres as a dramaturge. However, like many socialists, he was persecuted after the military coup in 1980. His most recent collection at the time, Ne Yagmur . . . Ne §iirler . . . {Neither Rain . . . Nor Poems . . .), was seized and destroyed by the junta. To avoid a hatsh prison sentence, he left the country in 1984 and went to France, where he remained until his acquittal in 1989. During his Paris years, Behramoglu edited the journal Anka, a literary publication in French focusing on Turkish literature, and completed a PhD at the Sorbonne on the comparative poetics of Nazim Hikmet and Vladimir Mayakovsky. Upon his return to Turkey, he was twice elected president of the Turkish Writers' Union.
Passionate love and political struggle are probably the two key aspects of his poetry. In a column written about these two concepts—sevda and kavga, as they are called in Turkish—

Behramoglu situates his own poetry in the tradition of Western engaged, mainly socialist, poetry:
You cannot dissociate love and struggle. There have been innumerable examples [of this association] throughout our century, in particular, in the works of distinguished poets such as Neruda, Nazim [Hikmet], Mayakovski, Eluard and Aragon. What can be more natural than human beings who experience struggle and love organically, reflecting them jointly in their poems and songs?2
Thus it is not surprising that there should be intertextual relations between Behramoglu's poetry and the works of the above-mentioned poets. The verse from "I've Learned Some Things," "To your utmost, listen to every beautiful song" (Insan butun giizel miizikleri dinlemeli alabildigine), is like a response to Louis Aragon's verse "When music is beautiful, all human beings are equal" (Quand la musique est belle, tous les hommes sont egaux) from the poem "Complaint of Pablo Neruda" (Complain te de Pablo Neruda).3 The principles of freedom, equality, and brotherhood achieved through art or even more revolutionary means are central to Behramoglu's understanding of socialism.
Four generations of Turkish poets can be classified as socialist poets. However, socialist poetry and socialist literature are controversial literary classifications in Turkey, just like anywhere else, because none of the founding fathers of socialism had a clear idea on the role of socialist literature. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels did not develop any comprehensive system of literary theory. Their scattered writings on literature and the arts were only collected and published in 1933 by M. Lifshitz and F. P. Schiller, and this collection did not

affinity between the poets categorized as socialist is not necessarily literary but rather political, even though this latter point, too, can be a source of antagonism, since there is no love lost between the various components of the socialist left in Turkey. Historically, Marxism as an ideology gained influence among the intelligentsia of Salonika and Istanbul during the first quarter of the twentieth century, and it rapidly became a major political force in literary cafes, though the emerging working class and the peasants in the Islamic lands of what remained of the Ottoman Empire were less responsive. Despite the young Turkish Republics initially good relations with the Soviet Union and Mustafa Kemal's ambivalent attitude toward socialist ideology, the socialist movement was given little freedom to develop in Atatiirk's time and was later persecuted by the authoritarian regime of Ismet Inonii. In this particular context, the aim of socialist literature was, in the words of the poet Rifat Ilgaz (1911-1993), one of its major proponents, "to analyze the circumstances of the period with Marxist methodology, to share the findings with society and to find solutions in the framework of the constitution of the Turkish Republic."4 In other words, literature was not only conceived of as a propaganda tool, but also as a possible way to analyze the workings of society, NazimHikmet (1902—1963) can rightly be seen as the father of Turkish socialist literature, even though some minor literary figures before him, like Yasar Nezihe (1880-1935) and Rasim Hasmet (1884[?]-1918), had bridged the gap between the committed humanism of Tevfik Fikret (1867—1915) and the more ideological poetry of the late thirties. It was under the influence of Nazim Hikmet that a whole generation started to write verses that called for a socialist revolution. They were to be known as the Generation of 1940 (1940 Kusagi). Attila llhan (1925-2005), a major left-wing poet and critic, referred to them "as a squad of self-sacrificing soldiers,"5 by which he pointed to the ruthless suppression of socialist activism during the forties. Their poetry was characterized by an active socialist

engagement and a radical rejection of tradition and of contemporary literary trends. It should be noted that their rejection of the classical and syllabist neo-folk traditions took place at a time when Nazim Hikmet was working on a synthesis of modernist, traditional, and divan poetry. But the members of the Generation of 1940 could not be completely informed of Hikmet's new endeavors because his works were forbidden. Instead, they were mainly acquainted with his earlier futurist and constructivist experiments. The poetry of the Generation of 1940 led to greater realism and thus to a thematic development in Turkish poetry. While critics agree that the poetry itself is more interesting from a documentary perspective than from a literary one, they also point to the difficult circumstances in which the poets wrote. Socialist poets, whose ideas were outlawed, had to work under the constant gaze of the authorities and suffered continuous harassment. Nevertheless, the poetry of the Generation of 1940 does certainly compare favorably with the poetry of the neo-Parnassian Seven Torch Holders (Yedi Mesaleciler), and other contemporary trends inspired by neo-folk poetry or the avant-garde Garip (Bizarre). But unlike the conservative and nationalist versifiers, the first socialist poets were widely ignored by mainstream literary criticism and are hardly mentioned in works of literary historiography.

However, the Generation of 1940 facilitated the emergence of several poets who outgrew the narrow framework of Zhdanovist literature.6 A new wave of socialist poetry developed during the sixties after the legalization of Nazim Hikmet's works in 1965- A whole new generation of young poets, among them Ataol Behramoglu, was introduced to the poetry of the blue-eyed giant. But situating Behramoglu's poetry only in the context of Turkish and world socialist poetry is insufficient. The poet himself takes a critical stance toward the concept of socialist literature—more particularly toward

Behramoglu is a fierce critic of what he calls "mechanical socialism" (Mekanik toplumculuk) and has devoted several articles to its ills. As one of the founders and the editor of the monthly magazine Halkin Dostlan (Friends of the People, 1970-1971), he criticized versifiers who equated socialist realism with merely focusing on the problems of the working class. In an article dating from 1970, he made a harsh assessment of the works of contemporary socialist poets:
Most of our fellow poets believe that socialist poetry consists of writing about the oppression and the poverty of the people. This is a grave mistake. This attitude reflects a populist approach and a tendency to satisfy petty bourgeois cravings. There is no doubt that it is very noble to wish to write about the oppression of the people and about poverty. But socialist poetry cannot only be the poetry of complaint.7

Behramoglu argues that socialist poetry should be poetry of resistance and revolt. It should not consist of a mere glorification of the people, but ought to reflect all the contradictions that can be found in the attitude of the working class.8 He favors a critical realism that comprises every realm of human experience. He advocates what he calls "organic poetry" {organik $iir) and defines it in opposition to "synthetic," "artificial," and "mechanical" poetry. Organic poetry is "personal" {ki§isel} but not "individualistic" {bireyci). It should not be constrained by extreme formalism but should evolve like a living organism in contact with the real world.9 Such a definition opens up spaces for the articulation of more personal concerns and the exploration of intimate emotions, such as in the poem "I've Learned Some Things":
You should know sorrow, honorably, with all your being Because the pains, like joys, make a person grow Your blood should mingle in the great circulation of life And in your veins, life's endless fresh blood should flow

Like many Turkish poets who started publishing in the sixties, Behramoglu wrote at a critical yet inspirational time in the history of Turkish poetry: The poetry of Nazim Hikmet was legally available and could be freely read and studied, maybe for the first time, and the avant-gardist trio Garip, lead by Orhan Veli (1914-1950), and the modernist Second Renewal (Ikinci Yeni) had completely transformed the understanding of poetry, relegating both neoclassical and syllabic poetry to an outmoded past. Poetically, an infinity of new worlds could now be built. However, these two literary trends had, until then, been mercilessly condemned by most left-wing as well as conservative literati. Attila. Ilhan was particularly vocal in his critiques of Garip. In an article evocatively entitled "What a Shame for Turkish Poetry," he repeated the claim that Garip's apolitical poetry had been the official poetry of the Inonii regime.10 This claim is not totally unsubstantiated since Garip had the support of Nurullah Atac, an influential critic close to the regime. Atacs and Garip's agendas overlapped. Atac worked on a radical redefinition of Turkish culture, which he judged to be too Oriental, whereas Garip rejected both classical and folk literature, even claiming that they wanted to reinvent poetry. Indeed, the final sentence of their manifesto, which had been drawn up by Orhan Veli, went as far as arguing "one ought to be against everything that was ancient and above all against poeticality."11 However, in the sixties, even though uninspired poets claiming Garip's heritage had proliferated, left-wing intellectuals were in a better position to judge the original achievements of the three founding writers: Garip's trademark was the rejection of every poetic convention. Ordinary life and emotions were central in their down-to-earth poetry that strove to describe subjective experiences and not objective realities. Moreover, they managed to establish the free verse as the meter of modern

was not that distant from the literary goals of socialist poets who, in Nazim Hikmet's terms, aimed at representing both "the misery of mankind" and "personal tragedies."12
Some of Behramoglus early verses even have that slight surrealistic and humorous spirit suggestive of Orhan Veli or, indeed, of Jacques Prevert, with whom Veli shared a common poetic sensitivity. The 1961 poem "Cat" is a case in point:

"Farewell, farewell" how nice is that A third one leaves the harmony flat "Farewell, farewell, farewell" What's more, it seems just like a cat
Behramoglus approach to the Second Renewal, the other trend that profoundly upset the Turkish poetic landscape, is similarly open-minded and critical. In the beginning the Second Renewal was a reaction against the general literary atmosphere in Turkey. The designation Second Renewal is misleading, though. At the time when the term was coined, critics had started to write about the Garip group as being the First Renewal. Hence one could erroneously conclude that the Second Renewal was the continuation of Garip. On the contrary, they rejected what they saw as the superficiality and the lack of depth of Garip poetry and of those who walked in the footsteps of the group. The Second Renewal also took a critical stance against the politically engaged poetry of the Generation of 1940 and later socialist poets. Their approach was elitist as they felt that the poetic language could not be a tool to convey a message, but only constituted the context in which the poet worked. Nonetheless, their stance was profoundly subversive and one could argue that their libertarian approach and focus on sexuality challenged the social status quo.
Though like most left-wing critics Behramoglu was ill at ease with this elitist understanding of poetry, he acknowledged its influence on his generation at a time when this was far from being fashionable. In 1970, he wrote in an article published in Devrim (Revolution):

As a new generation of socialist writers, we have to understand and assimilate the constructive aspects of every kind of poetry past and present. [. . .] If we do not synthesize the positive qualities of the Second Renewal poets, we will have ignored a 15-year-old experience. We have to understand the characteristics and to assimilate the useful aspects of the Second Renewal but also of Ahmed Arif, Orhan Veli, the syllabists, Nazim Hikmet, Yahya Kemal, the Tanzimat poets, divan and folk poetry, in other words not only of Turkish but also of world poetry.13
The above quotation substantiates Behramoglu's nonsectarian approach to literature—an attitude that was unusual on the Far Left in the seventies—and his interest in world poetry. Indeed Behramoglu, today a professor in Istanbul University's Department of Russian Language and Literature, is also an acclaimed translator who has translated some of the key figures in modern Russian literature, such as Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Ivan Turgenev, Anton Chekhov, and Maxim Gorky. Moreover, he has edited, together with fellow poet Ozdemir Ince, a four-volume anthology of world poetry that covers a wide and eclectic range of poets from the Angolan poet and former president Agostinho Neto to Stelios Geranis from Greece.
Since the modernizing reforms of the Tanzimat (1839-1876) and the subsequent growing interest in Western, mainly French, culture and literature, translation has continuously played a central role in Turkish literary, scientific, and academic life. It is one of the particularities of Turkish intellectual life that most major Turkish writers and poets have, until recently, also been translators. Key works of Western literature have been translated into Turkish by

Mann's Death in Venice by the influential poet and critic Behcet Necatigil; and, more recently, the translation of selected poems by Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, and Yehuda Amichai by Roni Margulies, the winner of the prestigious 2002 Yunus Nadi poetry prize, are just some examples of this phenomenon.
Nonetheless, it would be insufficient to explain Behramoglu's activities as a translator only by referring to the Turkish intellectuals self-appointed role as an educator of the people and a bridge between cultures, or to his passion for poetry. The act of translating should also be interpreted in the context of Behramoglu's internationalist engagement. Examples of his commitment to solidarity with the oppressed and his opposition to bourgeois nationalism abound in his theoretical texts and in his literary works. In the intensely emotional yet simple poem "Babies Don't Have Nations," he points to the obvious but rarely highlighted fact that newborn children share a common language:
I felt this for the first time far from my homeland Babies don't have nations The way they hold their heads is the same They gaze with the same curiosity in their eyes When they cry, the tone of their voices is the same Growing up thus becomes a reenactment of the unfortunate biblical event at Babel, the loss of the universal language. However, common tongues continue to subsist and Behramoglu's poetry unearths them. In the poem "What Do the Greek Songs Say," the poet points to similarities between Greek and Turkish music, thus undermining nationalist discourses on the historical rivalry between Greece and Turkey:

What do the Greek songs say
Is it that all songs will one day be one
What do the Greek songs say
So distant. . . yet not so far away

Responses in Greek to such pacifist cravings do exist of course. The opening verses of "Peace" (Eirini), by Yannis Ritsos, could be read in narallel to Behramoglus poem. It should be noted that Behramoglu translated this poem into Turkish.
The dreams of a child are peace. The dreams of a mother are peace. The words of love under the trees, are peace.14
But Behramoglu's quest for emotional and intellectual symbiosis goes far beyond modern Turkey's geographical borders. Hence in the poem "A Very Strange Black," the symbiotic relationship between the narrator and an unknown black man in Harlem becomes a symbol of

the dignity and equality of all human beings:
There, where Walt Whitman is from, a black
In Harlem, its leaves after rain
A glass of gin, double martini

As if feeling my self there in the dark
The poem, dating from 1962, should also be read as a declaration of the poets solidarity with the oppressed black minority in the United States at a time when the African-American civil rights movement was at its height. Behramoglus stance was far from being ordinary in Turkey. National-conservative intellectuals, such as Mehmet Qnarli, the editor of the literary monthly Hisar (The Fortress), were inclined to reproduce and appropriate the white supremacist discourse in their own publications.15
Behramoglus internationalist viewpoint is confirmed by a web of literary references in his poems, either by direcdy mentioning the names

DaySurely"), Dylan Thomas ("With Dylan Thomas"), and Walt Whitman ("A Very Strange Black"), or through intertextual connections in poems such as "It Was Paris," a meditation, full of lament, evoking Apollinaires "The Pont Mirabeau" (Le pont Mirabeau):
Compare, Behramoglu:
It was Paris, the Paris of what time Flying off with my fly-away life Suddenly everything turned to memory Love turned to lament
Under the pont Mirabeau flows the Seine
Our loves flow too
Must it recall them so
Joy came to us always after pain16
Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine
Et nos amours
Faut-il qu'il m'en souvienne
La joie venait toujours apres la peine17
Another instance of intertextual connections can be found in "Babies Don't Have Nations," whose central strophes semanrically and syntactically evoke the final verses of the Georgian poet Vazha Pshavelas poem "Tell the Lovely Violet." Behramoglu writes:
Fathers, do not let them slip your minds Mothers, protect your babies Silence them, silence them, don't let them speak Who would talk of war and destruction

Let us leave them to grow up with passion May they sprout and burgeon like saplings They are not yours, nor mine, nor anybody's They belong to the whole world They are the apple of all humanity's eye
And Pshavela in the same vein:
Let her not see the sun, she'll only regret it, When she discovers it is not permanent! Oh earth, to you consigned let This my lovely violet remain, Protect her, be a parent to her, As is your custom.18
Though international literary references abound in his works, Ataol Behramoglu's poetry is also about Turkey. However, the reader in search of Orientalist cliches will be looking for them in vain. Behramoglu's Turkey is "lovely," yet "unhappy." Istanbul, of course, is an important theme in his poetry, but the focus of his verses is more on the ordinariness of the city than on the breathtaking skyline of its historical quarters. Its streets are "poor" and "unlit." The street sellers have "worn hands" ("Through Those Poor, Unlit Streets"). The poet chooses to focus on those aspects of the city that are usually ignored by postcard designers and Western travelers. But misery and poverty are universal realities. Behramoglu's poetry is deeply humane and humanistic.
He challenges and undermines nationalist and idealist discourses on the representation of Turkey—in particular of the Anatolian mainland—in poetry, a major theme of literary criticism even today. During the first decades of the twentieth century, the Five S

past and cosmopolitan Istanbul were banished from, or at least condemned in, their verses. However, their depiction of Anatolia, novel though it was, had little to do with Anatolian realities since the Istanbul-based poets had almost no direct experience of Anatolian life. Their nationalist pastorals depicted a hypothetical state of felicity untainted by urban cosmopolitanism and modernity.
Behramoglu's Anatolia has nothing in common with the bucolic verses of the Five Syllabists, which are still part of the very conservative literature curriculum for high schools. He writes about boredom in provincial towns and stresses the universality of this situation ("Evening Sorrow in Country Towns"):
Evening sorrow in country towns It's the same the whole world over Clear blue sky and phantom houses And the sad glances of women
He takes the reader far away from the idyllic verses that narrate the love games of naive village girls and astute shepherds. In some poems, he subverts more directly the pastoral codes, as in the opening quatrain of "In Praise of Cows":
In my life I've seen so many cows I must write for them a poem of praise Cows lounging, strewn about the meadows Cows endlessly musing as they graze
Though Behramoglu parodies syllabist poetry—whose achievements he nonetheless acknowledges in his critical writings—he establishes a critical dialogue with the communist Hasan Izzettin Dinamo's (1909—1989) brand of pastoral poetry. Dinamo's pastoral poems were often targeted for reproach by fellow travelers from the Turkish Marxist left who believed in a more propagandist poetry. It is true that an uninformed reading of Dinamo's sonnets could lead to pastoral interpretations. However, read in the light of Hasan Izzettin Dinamo's experiences—imprisonment and torture—it becomes obvious that his poems are not literary attempts to preserve the political and social status quo, which is what pastoral poets implicitly aim at. The nostalgic evocation of the beloved and nature, of innocent games of love in idyllic conditions, is the expression of a deep craving for freedom:
Whenever you're on my mind I remember the Green River Your fair face, your auburn hair, your immaculate dress Slowly unveiled among the mist In those gardens filled with fragrant apples19
In the opening lines of "Poem on the Threshold of Forty," Behramoglu seems to oppose his own pantheist extolling of life to the dreamlike and static atmosphere of Dinamo's sonnets:
From these minor enthusiasms, time out Because the sun is my brother I'm making love with a river Because I'm the same age as the wind
But Behramoglu's emphasis on movement and energy, which is not without reminders to the reader of Walt Whitman's celebration of sexuality and nature, should not be read as a denigration of Dinamo's bucolic verses. The differences in the perception and representation of nature in these two poems emphasize the ordeal suffered by the political prisoner for whom nature has become a lost paradise, unchanging and ageless. It is one of Turkish literary history's terrible ironies that Behramoglu was jailed one year after

of rural life and traditions, his poetry is nonetheless deeply anchored in Turkish reality. He is only too conscious of the fact that the borderline between patriotism and jingoism is blurred and that the patriotic feelings of the people have, in the past as well as today, been hijacked to bury more concrete social and economic problems. He relates to Turkey on a more personal and emotional level in his poems. The poetry of ordinary life plays a central role in this approach in which subjective and trivial details find their way into his poetry and exemplify various facets of material reality, as can be seen in the poem "When Leaving Town":

The things recalled when leaving town
Are mostly little things
The grocer's bill is paid
At the last moment, one runs into a distant acquaintance

This aspect of his work resembles Orhan Veli's later poetry and Nazim Hikmet's brand of subjective realism developed particularly in his love poems written for Piraye in the thirties and forties.
Love is a central theme in the poetry of Ataol Behramoglu. However, he rarely approaches this theme on its own, but instead discusses it in a wider social context. The real world, a world of social struggles, injustices, and individual tragedies, is the setting of love. In Behramoglu's poetic universe, love is less an emotion than an action, and the act of lovemaking thus gains a symbolic significance, as in the opening verse of the poem "One Day Surely," written in 1965: "Today I made love and then I joined in a march" (Bugiin sevistim, yiiruyuse katildim sonra). The act of love and the protest march are expressions of the same need for action, for grasping and shaping reality. The link between love and political activism is, of course, one of the great themes of socialist poetry. Human solidarity as a natural extension of private love has been a theme used by poets such as Louis Aragon, Paul Eluard, and Nazim Hikmet, who wrote that "life

not worth living unless one was in love with both one person and millions of people,"20 a maxim Behramoglu could easily appropriate. The loving couple in his poetry can be interpreted as the founding principle of a loving, peaceful, and humane society.
However, the universe of Ataol Behramoglu's love poetry can also be uneasy. There are constant references to violence. In the lyrical poem "This Love Ends Here," which deals with the separation of two lovers, the contrast between the child, a symbol of innocence, and the weapon is striking. Childhood is an ever-occurring theme in Behramoglu's poetry and symbolizes a craving for lost innocence. The narrator may still be a child in his heart, but his acts are those of a grown man. The fact that the narrator carries a weapon means that he may have to lose his innocence, and is an obvious reference to state repression and to the political violence that has shaped much of the experiences of the socialist left in republican Turkey:
This love ends here and me . . . I'm up and gone Child in my heart, in my pocket a revolver This love ends here, have a good day, lover And me, I'm up and gone, a river flowing on
There is a striking discrepancy between the musicality of the poem and the harshness of the message conveyed. The repetition of rhymes in "-er" is not fortuitous in this poem on the border between lyric and political poetry. Er means soldier in Turkish. Similarly, in "You Are My Beloved," a later poem written in 1990, references to "youth bleeding," "unfinished lovemaking," and to the beloveds "wak[ing] in the night screaming" provide a subtext referring to a tough and violent background. It is not surprising that the narrator of the love poems occasionally yearns, full of despair, for his beloved "in the

sexuality in Turkish society and as a way to underscore the materiality of love. By writing about lovemaking, Behramoglu shares intimate moments with the reader, thus making the private public, as, for instance, in "The Erotic Gazel":
Feet that I will cup in my palms Like a pair of white carnations
Glances sparkling with desire Lips trembling with mystery
One could argue that Behramoglu's poetry is poetry of demystification and focuses on the subjective perceptions of the narrator and on social realities. By stressing the materiality of poetry in, for instance, "How Awful When Poetry Ages as It Is Read," or the material context of literary creation, as in the poem "August Guest," he demystifies literature and thus challenges both elitist and idealist approaches to art:
I was translating a Chekhov short story A glass of beer on my table —My room, my books, my ordinary world— On the tulle curtains the sunbeams of August
His latest poetry collection, Gazel to a New Love, with its strong erotic undertone and representations of lovemaking—the physical aspects of love—gains particular relevance in this attempt to explore and celebrate the materiality of life. The choice of the gazel—a short, more or less sonnet-length Ottoman love poem in which the "love" is often read today as purely metaphorical—is thus meaningful. The poet challenges the assumptions regarding the mystical nature of the gazel and presents his own materialist conception of love. Love is much more than a metaphor. This is reminiscent, of course,

f Nazim Hikmet's subversion of the mystical nature o£rubdis, the trains of tne classical tradition, by using them to explore his materialist conception of love.
At a time when some want us to believe in a conflict of civilizations between a mystical and irrational Orient and a materialist and Cartesian West, Ataol Behramoglu's poetry is a powerful reminder that the world is much more complex. Indeed, Behramoglu is a poet in dialogue with the real world. In a recent article where he wondered what Nazim Hikmet's stance in the post-September 1 \ world would have been, Behramoglu was probably describing his own standpoint too, thus directly challenging the prophets of the clash of civilizations:
On whose side would Nazim Hikmet have been after the catastrophe of September 11, 2001? Probably, on the side of the real world ... As a humanist, Nazim Hikmet would have felt true and deep sorrow for the thousands of innocent victims who lost their lives in the Twin Towers. He would have shared the pain of the American people (and of the world). But armed with his social conscience and anti-imperialist convictions, the same Nazim Hikmet would have realized beforehand where things were going to end up. He would have made efforts to warn humanity about the real aims hidden behind the crocodile tears of imperialism [. . ,].21

1. Ataol Behramoglu, "§iir, Insancilhk, Yurtseverlik," Siirin Dili—Anadil (Istanbul: Adam, 1995), 163.
2. Ataol Behramoglu, "Sevda ve Kavga Sozleri," Kimligim: Insan (Istanbul:
Cumhuriyct Kitaplan, 2006), 52,
3. Louis Aragon, "Complainte de Pablo Neruda," Oeuvres poetiques completes I (Paris: Gallimard, 2007), 1111.
4. Quoted in MetinCengiz, Toplumcn Gergekci Sur 1923-1953 (Istanbul: Tumzamanlaryayincihk, 2000), 13.
5. Attila Ilhan, "O 'Fedailer' ki," HangiEdebiyat(Ankara: Bilgi, 1993), 45.
6. Zhdanovism was the official cultural doctrine of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1952 and aimed at eradicating supposedly apolitical, bourgeois, and individualistic literature.
7. Ataol Behramoglu, "Toplumcu §iir Ustiine Birkac Soz," Ya$ayan bir §iir (Istanbul: Adam, 1993), 19.
8. Ibid., 19-20.
9- Ataol Behramoglu, "Organik §iir," Yafayan bir §iir (Istanbul: Adam, 1993), 104-106.
1 0, Attila Ilhan, "Yazik Oldu Tiirk Siirine," Hangi Edebiyat (Ankara: Bilgi, 1993), 260.
11. Orhan Veli, "Garip," Bihiin purler (Istanbul: Adam, 1999), 36.
12. Quoted in Aziz Calislar, ed., NAzim Hikmet: Sanat ve Edebiyat Ozerine Yazilar (Istanbul: Biiim ve Sanat, 1987), 65.
13. Ataol Behramoglu, "Nedir Ikinci Yeni'den Gecmek?" Ya§ayan bir §iir (Istanbul: Adam, 1993), 13.
14. Yannis Ritsos, "Peace," in Yannis Ritsos: Selected Poems 1938-1988, trans. anded. Kimon Friar and Kostas Myrsiades (Brockport: BOA Editions, 1989), 51.
15. See for instance, Mehmet Cinarli, Altints Yihn Hikayesi (Istanbul: Kaknus, 1999), 149.
16. Guillaume Apoilinaire, Selected Writings of Guilldume Apollinaire, trans. Roger Shattuck (New York: New Directions Books, 1950), 65.
17. Guillaume Apollinaire, "Le pont Mirabcau," Alcools (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1989), 15.
18. Vaja-Pshavela, "Tell the Lovely Violet," in A Georgian Reader, ed. George Hewitt (London: SOAS, 1996), 256.
19. Hasan Izzettin Dmamo, "Sonnet II," in Son YuzyilBiiyiik Turk Siiri Antolojisi 1, ed. Ataol Behramoglu (Istanbul: Sosyal, 1997), 246.
20. Nazim Hikmet, Bursa Cezaevinden Va-Nu'lam Mektuplar, ed. Vala Nurectin (Istanbul: Cem, 1970), 57.
21. Ataol Behramoglu, "Nazim Kimden Yana Olurdu," Kendin Olmak yada Olmamak (Istanbul: Inkilap, 2003), 152.