Heidi Trautmann

354 - Earth and Rain – Poetry Rain in Nicosia


By Heidi Trautmann


Rain is to give life to the earth. Poetry was lying on the ground and was stepped on by neglecting feet. A poet stood at the mike and recited a poem but the people around did not stop talking, only a child carrying coloured balloons stood there listening with her mouth open, all attention.

Poetry Rain along Nicosia’s Ledra and Arosta Streets cut by checkpoints, organized by Sidestreets (www.sidestreets.org ) and Ideogramma-cy.com (www.ideogramma-cy.com) was meant to support individuality, respect, tolerance, acceptance, human rights, living together, sharing the same life, sharing the same space under the motto: Different nationalities – many ethnics, one people, one world, same future, so says Stella from Nicosia South, poet herself.

307 poets from 68 countries had sent in their poems to take part in the event on May 26 which had been filled into large balloons hanging over the two streets waiting to be released onto us. Many associations and institutions have supported the idea which in itself is great; the first of this kind was done as an international cooperation of poets in Chile in 2001,  the last in 2010 in Berlin, (see my article on the Berlin event) http://www.heiditrautmann.com/category.aspx?CID=8818775662 .


I was present first in Ledra Street where the event was duly opened by the organizers, Anber Onar and Johann Pillai speaking for Sidestreets and Nora Hadjisotiriou for Ideogramma with very touching words. A very young group of musicians sang some nice songs, 100 m further on good jazz was played, a funny mixture of the two for our ears; my friend Aydin Mehmet Ali was reciting her poem ‘Women of Nicosia’ the one she had participated with in the event. I tried to hush down groups of women speaking loudly standing with their backs to the poet and kept wondering about so many people walking by, trampling on the poems not even turning their heads. Three more balloons burst and poems rained onto our heads and picking them up as they came down I went over to the North and found the event taking place next to the Büyük Han. Yaşar Ersöy took on the role as conférencier and introduced actors and actresses from the Lefkoşa Belediye Tiyatrosu group to read poems by the Turkish Cypriots poets Fikret Demirağ, Jenan Selçuk and others, recited most theatrically, accompanied by the well known pianist Ersen Sururi improvising the tunes to the sound of poems;  later he and his wife Zeliş Şenol were entertaining us with great jazz songs. I enjoyed it very much, we all enjoyed it very much, but the ‘we all’ was only an audience of perhaps 30 people? The artists were practically entertaining themselves. The stage was perfect, the late sun delivering good lighting, a good atmosphere; no poets were there, no artists, no other people involved to meet the high motto of the event except the audience present, however exquisite. The two groups on both side of the green line were celebrating the event separately, as far as I had experienced between 6 and 8 pm. When the sun had gone, and I was on my way home, a spectacular performance by a fire-eater made the audience scream with delight, and when I went down the lane there was still one balloon hanging over the street full of poems.  I wonder if it will be kept for another event.


I brought many poems home, poems I had picked up from the street with foot marks on, some I had caught from mid-air. I had the chance to have caught poems by Senem Gokel, Nora Nadjarian, Aliye Ummanel, Neriman Cahit, all from Cyprus; there were some from Israel, Nigeria, Spain and India etc.

Funny feeling to see so many poems rain down on you written by many people around the globe to share the wish by the Cypriots for the high values mentioned above. But what would they think if they knew that there were so very few people in the streets to catch them?


Women of Nicosia

They are dressed in their Sunday best.

It is Sunday.

Shimmering black hair.


Short or long touching

their invisible buttocks.

Dark skins created by far away oceans

hold onto their luster

touched by the Mediterranean sun.

Only the hands have swollen,





With raw pink patches,

nails worn down,

barely growing beyond

the tender flesh line.


The new women of Nicosia.

Carrying plastic bags

Of lurid pink and blue.

And maybe one from Fendi.

A castoff of her employer.

Walking in Nicosia,

up and down.

Up and down.

Claiming it as theirs.

In groups.

Always in groups.

Claiming and reclaiming

the streets of Nicosia.

It is now theirs.

The Cypriots have deserted her,

moved onto other places,

other interests.

Discarded her.


She is no longer chic.


She is hospitable.

Takes care of them

with her broken windows,

                rotten doors,

                               missing distorted shutters,

                collapsed roofs,

shut down shops,

                               lattice metal shop shutters,


                               gaping wounds of fallen plaster,

                narrow alleyways,

courtyards with palm trees

                                               and thick layers of dust.                   

                               “Attention Dangerous Building”


signs in three languages,

none of that of the new women of Nicosia.

They walk by, oblivious,

only aware of the smile

and touch of the women in their group

savouring the single day of freedom

and the new friendships of forced migrations.



March 20, 2004, Nicosia



Here is another one ....... 



Haiku on the Jerusalem roof

At four muezzin

At six church bells, yet no

Sound from Jews…autumn


Haiku on the Greek boat

Aphrodite’s birthplace:

Behind ferry from Cyprus

So much sunset foam








Young Greek Cypriot musicians
Young Greek Cypriot musicians

List of poets participating
List of poets participating

List of sponsors and supporters
List of sponsors and supporters

Poetry ignored and marched over
Poetry ignored and marched over

Young Jazz group just 100 m away
Young Jazz group just 100 m away

Two poets: Aydin Mehmet Ali and Anna
Two poets: Aydin Mehmet Ali and Anna

The event is opened by Ideogramma and Sidestreets and a lady from EU
The event is opened by Ideogramma and Sidestreets and a lady from EU

A handful of listeners
A handful of listeners

Poems tumbeling down
Poems tumbeling down

Poems released and rain ing down on us to fertilize brains and hearts
Poems released and rain ing down on us to fertilize brains and hearts

One lady to bend her knees and pick up a poem
One lady to bend her knees and pick up a poem

Aydin Mehmet Ali reciting her poem
Aydin Mehmet Ali reciting her poem 'Women of Nicosia'

Yasar Ersoy and some actors and actresses reciting poems by local poets
Yasar Ersoy and some actors and actresses reciting poems by local poets

Jazz session with Zelis Senol and Ersen Sururi
Jazz session with Zelis Senol and Ersen Sururi

Children taking part
Children taking part

The Fire-eater
The Fire-eater

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