Every woman knows her own tree by Bejan Matur
Poetry transcends politics, yes, but to understand the poetry of Karin Karakaşlı and Bejan Matur, one needs to have some knowledge of where their writing is rooted.
Such heavy historical context bears societal challenges: there is a constant struggle between being oneself and having to fit into a mould – one shaped by nationalistic values and imposed by a majority – that makes it extremely difficult for people coming from various minorities, or just daring to act differently than the current majority, to live with daily. This state of in-betweenness and rejection is expressed in both of Bejan and Karin’s poetry, but in extremely different ways (I therefore urge you to discover their work in the chapbooks that PTC is going to publish soon).
We spent hours on Skype with Sarah going through each poem, and Jen sent me many questions which I have tried to answer the best way I could. These conversations were a reminder that, although everything I mentioned above plays a role in the way we read, understand, and translate poetry, in the end, our personal perspective and reading of it can be very subjective, in a beautiful way. We each include part of ourselves in these poems: you will read with your own life, cultural, emotional baggage, I have put part of myself in each bridge translation, and Sarah and Jen have also added their own voices into each line.
Karin Karakaşlı and Bejan Matur write, and in my own way, I try to make their writing mine, and yours, and ours. Yearning to build our collective memory away from hatred. Creating spaces where we can all breathe and imagine the worlds we wish to inhabit. One line at a time.