Heidi Trautmann

136 - Taner Baybars – A Cypriot Turkish Poet - in memoriam


I, Heidi,  was given the message of his death by friends and I felt very touched. (See letter under 1). It is his brother who had written the words. I had heard so much about Taner Baybars, read his poetry and very often thought how I could meet him or contact him for an interview for volume II of my book "Art and Creativity in North Cyprus".  The following curriculum vitae I took from "The series of Modern Turkish Cypriot Literature edited by Jenan Selcuk.


Taner Baybars worked in the British Military Library in Nicosia and in the British Council. He settled in England in 1956 and continued to work in the library until his retirement. His early short stories were published in the Yeditepe and Hisar journals. Beginning poetry under the influence of poets like Yunus Emre, Nazim Hikmet, Ohan Veli, he managed in a short while to break loose from these influences and reach out to his own understanding of poetry. He wrote completely in English after his first book and was introduced as a British poet in many international anthologies. Never returning to Cyprus again, Baybars in the 1960s translated Nazim Hikmet’s Selected Poems (1967). The Moscow Symphony (1970), The Day before Tomorrow (1971) and in 1990s Mehmet Yashin’s Don’t go back to Kyrenia into English. Leaving the UK, he settled in the Lusignan region in the South of France, the ancient centre of the Cypriot-Leventine society. He intermixed Turkish, English, Hellenic and Latin poetical traditions and used the languages in his poems in English. He wrote in French and, after many years in Turkish again, some of them being published in kitap-lik jornal in Turkey. In his multicultural, multilingual poems interwoven with a multilayered image and sound structure, the poet benefiting skillfully from the old language traditions, used every language in a simple but remarkable way. His poems have been translated into German, Polish, Arabic, Hungarian, Serbian and many other languages. Lately Baybars grew vines and fruits, painting abstract landscape pictures, opening exhibitions, and writing essays and sonnets.

Books: Mendelin Ucundakiler (1954 poetry), To catch a Falling Man (1963, poetry) A Trap for the Burglar (1965, novel) Plucked in a far-off land: Images in Self-Biography (1970) Susila in the Autumn Woods (1974), poetry) Narcissus in a dry Pool (1978, poetry) Pregnant shadows (1981,poetry) Seçme Şiirler/Selected Poems: 1947-1997 (1997, poetry, translated by Mehmet Yaşin), Uzuk Ülke: Bir Kibris Çocuglugu (1997, biography, translated by Bahar Öcal Düzgören), Tilki ile Çobanaldatan, Toplu Şiirler (1951-2001 (2007, poetry, translated by Gürgenç Korkmazel).



 (1) Taner mercifully did not suffer any pain and he died peacefully, sleep transformed to death, over two days. On his last day I played some music for him although he was not conscious. One of the pieces was Cennet by Ferhat Gocer which I had on my iphone. The ceremony was a civil one rather than religious and I remembered him with a speech which was translated into French. Over 30 friends turned up to remember him.  Susila read three of his poems. Susila and I saw him before the coffin lid was placed. Again, thanks to technology, I found a Fatiha duasi on the internet, sung beautifully in Arabic, and played it to him. At least he received a muslim blessing. His hospital room overlooked a new mosque and a church beside it. When he was still able to lift himself up in bed I pointed this out to him. both of his religions in view. He gave a little smile. 

I dont believe that his love and longing for Cyprus ever diminished. It was such a shame that such a clever and intellectual person could not overcome the fear of going back. He would have loved the recognition and attention he would have got. I was very touched that his death was announced and nice words said about him in the Turkish press. if you google Turkce haberler baybars, you will find them still there.

His wishes for his ashes is to be scattered in the sea 1km from Valras Plage. Susila and I agreed that we would add to his wishes. Some of his ashes I will bring to Cyprus to scatter over parents' graves and some to take to the sea near Vasilya. a childhood place he never forgot.

sonsuz selam ve sevgiler



I would like to recite one poem of his which I found in POETRY of the Series of Modern Turkish Literature edited by Suzan Yilmaz:




He stood above on my bed

Holding a bird in his hand

Touch me the feather touch

the eyelids. Which garden

was it I saw you in?

Breeze colouring your neck,

a little egg in your cupped plam.

Which house? As you a boy

carried a large bird in your hand

pecked at you, you shrank back

never let it go.Whose garden?

You in your mother’s belly

holding a large egg in your hand,

the sound of a firework

silly, silly, made you jump.



Web Site Counter(web site counter)  [impressum