Fisherman of Halicarnassus remembered in Bodrum
MUĞLA – Anadolu Agency
Contributions made to the western province of Muğla’s Bodrum district by writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, known as the Fisherman of Halicarnassus, are highly appreciated by locals.
Born in Crete on April 17, 1890, Kabaağaçlı spent the first years of his childhood in Athens, where his father served as a governor. He went to primary school in Büyükada, and secondary and high school in Robert College. He wanted to study marine in England but graduated from Oxford University’s history department because of the insistence from his family.
Getting married in 1913 in Italy, Kabaağaçlı lived there for some time and received painting education.
Kabaağaçlı started publishing articles in newspapers and magazines when he returned to Istanbul. In 1925, he was found guilty for one of his articles and exiled to Bodrum.
He completed half of his three-year punishment in Bodrum and the other half in Istanbul.
Then Kabaağaçlı returned to Bodrum, where he socialized with people and lived for some 25 years.
During those years, Bodrum was a small fisherman town and Kabaağaçlı planted dozens of seeds in various spots of the town.
These trees, which were planted by him nearly a century ago, are now drawing attention in Bodrum’s city center.
The Turkish and English note written by the fisherman greets local and foreign guests, saying “When you reach the top of the hill, you will see Bodrum. Don’t assume that you’ll leave as you came. The others before you were the same, too. As they departed, they all left their souls behind.”
Due to his contributions to Bodrum, Kabaağaçlı is remembered with a bust in the Bodrum Municipality Square.
April 17 was his 127th birthday and he was commemorated in the town with various events.
‘His books were poetical’
Sönmez Taner, a Halicarnassus Fisherman Forum member writer, said he has been trying to rediscover the Fisherman of Halicarnassus for 23 years. He said they commemorated him both on his birthday and on his death anniversary, adding that all his books were in poetical language.
Nazım Hikmet, a celebrated poet and author of Turkish literature, described the Fisherman of Halicarnassus as “The greatest poet I have ever known.”
“However, Kabağaçlı has never written a poem. But his books are so poetical that he is defined like this,” Taner said.
Taner said that although many famous writers had lived in Bodrum, they commemorated Kabaağaçlı especially because he engrained many values to the town.
Taner said Kabağaçlı was exiled to Bodrum for three years, but he later decided to spend his life there as soon as he saw the town.
“He stayed after his exile period. For his children’s education, he had to move to İzmir unwillingly in 1947. He planted 45 species of seeds and trees in Bodrum. Almost all citrus trees in Bodrum were planted by him. He came to Bodrum as Cevat Şakir but greeted the next day as the Fisherman of Halicarnassus. He always wrote about the people of this town. He befriended fishermen and sponge divers. He named children and drew embroidery designs for young girls,” Taner said.
‘Bodrum would not have become Bodrum’
According to information provided by Kabaağaçlı’s daughter İsmet Kabaağaçlı Noonan, Taner said the famous writer worked as a staffed gardener working for the Bodrum Municipality and always had seeds in his pockets.
Taner said the Fisherman of Halicarnassus was known as the first person who took a blue voyage trip in Bodrum as it was mentioned in the works of the famous poet at the time Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu.
“Kabaağaçlı wrote thousands of pages of articles, more than 20 books and novels. These works are still printed and sold. If he was not exiled here, Bodrum would not become Bodrum in my opinion,” Taner said.
His memories at Maritime Museum
Noonan has donated a very special collection of her father to the Bodrum Maritime Museum. Photos from his family album, moments from his life, historical documents, drawings and personal belongings are on display at the museum.
The director of the museum, Sema Sagat, said they received the collection with a special protocol. Stating that visitors showed great interest to the collection, Sagat said, “People are especially interested in Kabaağaçlı’s babyhood snap suit, hat and family tree.”
She added that English writer Roger Williams has published a book titled “The Fisherman of Halicarnassus:
The Man Who Made Bodrum Famous.”