Poetry and litterature festival in Istanbul
ISTANBULPoets and writers from various countries will be hosted in events in various venues of Istanbul during the Istanbul Poetry and Literature Festival to start on Sept 28
Poets and writers from a total of 20 countries will be hosted in various events like concerts and talks in various venues of Istanbul. During the festivities, William Shakespeare will be commemorated on the 400th anniversary of his death, as will Turkish intellectual Cemil Meriç on the 100th anniversary of his passing. This year’s festival will host Turkish figures including Mario Levi, Ahmet Ümit, İskender Pala, Tarık Tufan, Beşir Ayvazoğlu, Haydar Ergülen, Hüseyin Yurttaş, Abdülkadir Budak and Barış Müstecaplıoğlu.
Along with poets and novelists, the festival will also host philosophers such as Paris-born Eric Sadin. One of the most important writers in contemporary Slovenian literature, Drago Jančar will be also among the other notable literary figures at the festival. Another notable guest of the event will be Australia’s Philip Hammial, one of the founders of the World Poetry Movement.
Jason Goodwin’s novels English writer Jason Goodwin, who has gained popularity in the west with books on the Ottoman Empire, will also appear at the event. His famous book, “The Janissary Tree,” was recently published in Turkey. Speaking of his story about how he became interested in Istanbul, Turkey and the history of the area, Goodwin said he always wanted to write, even as a child, and that he was a big reader, too. “By the time I went to university I had developed an image of Istanbul in my mind, a sort of fantasy, made up of little scraps of knowledge like pieces of a mosaic.
Vikings, Venetians, Ataturk, Byzantium... And on the map, Istanbul was in such an interesting position. Like a gateway between worlds,” he said. Goodwin chose to study Byzantine History at Cambridge University “because I had read the poetry of W.B. Yeats, the Irish poet, who gave the impression that nothing in Byzantine times ever changed. But history is about change. Things shift all the time, and the story of the Byzantine Empire is intensely dramatic. “ Goodwin walked from Poland to Istanbul and his account of the journey, “On Foot to the Golden Horn,” won the John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize in 1993.
When asked what triggered him to walk from Poland to Turkey, Goodwin said: “It was 1990, and the world had just been turned upside down by the collapse of the communist regimes of Eastern Europe. We wanted to go and see this forbidden side of Europe, and to meet the people who had been hidden from the West for so long. I had a romantic image of travelling like a gypsy, walking the paths between villages, staying in farms and barns... It was exactly like that. People looked after us all the way, gave us shelter, often a meal, and would not take any payment. We experienced a peasant way of life that had not much changed in a century.
And our destination was always Istanbul: it felt like the capital city of the whole region, from Hungary onwards. The great city!’” Goodwin’s book “The Janissary Tree” won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2007 and novels in the series have been translated into over 40 languages. Goodwin said he tried to make the very exotic, distant world of the Ottomans more accessible to modern readers. “I wanted to show how people lived, and got along with each other, and let these ‘orientalist’ characters speak in a normal voice. I tried to put a lot of history into the novel, but make the story so exciting that people would hardly notice how much they were learning.” He also said the response to the book was “fantastic.” Even Turkish readers wrote to say that they had learned a lot, he added. The last book in the series, “The Baklava Club,” is a story about Istanbul’s role as a place of refuge.
“Istanbul itself is a sort of character in the books,” the writer said. Goodwin says he admired work of Turkey’s Nobel laureate writer Orhan Pamuk, saying, “But I couldn’t call him an influence – my books are very different. I adore Elif Şafak’s novels, with their sly humor and strong women. But I am writing detective stories. My influences are Dan Brown, Raymond Chandler, and my own knowledge and imagination.” At present, the writer is considering a movie. “I have written a screenplay set in the Ottoman Empire in the reign of Süleyman II, about a Turkish horse that was eventually sent to England. It was the fastest horse ever seen there – like a Ferrari,” Goodwin said. The ninth Istanbul Poetry and Literature Festival will close on Oct. 2 with a concert by Country for Syria at the Emirgan Lale Museum.