Tamer Öncül, a poet with a deep concern for his country, here an excerpt of my interview with him that is included in my new book 'Art and Creativity in North Cyprus Volume II'
Isik Bookstore will present his new book 'YER' at the 1984 Restaurant in Nicosia, at 20:00 hrs.
Poet, Dentist and Columnist
Born in Nicosia in 1960
Poetry versus today’s humanity
“What is the meaning of
humanity today? Are these two-legged living creatures on our globe still human
in the sense we used to know? The
classic definition in our dictionaries of ‘human’ is: having or showing the
best qualities of mankind which are kindness, tenderness, compassion,
consideration, civilization, refinement etc. This definition is dead, it has
been replaced by ‘barbaric’, we have returned to the level of barbarians,
living beings who are only interested in satisfying their basic needs and their
insatiable greed. These beings don’t
stop at destroying their own trees and cultural assets.”
Tamer Öncül expresses his
disgust about the developments in his country - but also in the whole world.
Ideals such as pride, honour, truth, love of country have vanished, have been
trampled on during recent years. These values have been sold out for something
more treacherous. This is Cyprus for him today. He tells me this in his
dentist’s office in Nicosia, an office where next to the clinical equipment for
the care of dental patients are shelves full of books - not only scientific
books but volumes of poetry and literature.
The walls are decorated with pictures by his artist friends, a place
where one can feel at ease. Tamer Öncül is a handsome man with relaxed
composure, not at all as his poems would make us believe, but rather like the
doctor his patients trust in. A bit confusing; how do these two roles work together,
I ask him.
“To concern myself with the
various pains of patients demands the same kind of psychological approach as
poetry.” Tamer explains, “One does not exclude the other, rather the two
support each other. Studying dentistry was a chance decision; the alternative
would have been archaeology, but I followed my brother’s advice – he studied
medicine himself – to go for dentistry.
And the most important thing about it is that it leaves my head and my heart free
for literature and poetry.”
Tamer Öncül was born into
the years of trouble and the places of his childhood were all in the area
between Kermia and Gönyeli, especially the house of his grandfather who more
than once had to take the family in, in times of crisis. “On the one hand, I
grew up with the mysterious stories and legends my grandfather told us during
the hours of the dying day and on the other, I grew up with the noise of guns,
to see soldiers come and go, to see and hear people die, to see and smell
blood, and we could feel the hate and mistrust like solid walls.”
To Niyazi and Panikos
Look! I am just in the middle
Ugly, protruding vertebras
Of your humpback…
Your rusty, breakable bones
Under my feet
And terrible searchlights
The desolation’s lie.
Look! I am alone on your back…
The people, your creators,
Stayed behind and in front of me…
all together gaze at their pains
by each other…-
Eyes blushed from shame
Follow my haughty shadow I feel…
They look through bullet holes:
Frightened and offensive.
Look I am just in the middle.
The one, whose steel muscles shiver,
And thorny black hair
Piercing your bloody flesh of your back…
I heard your story
From a young man
Watering his roses
Look !We are alone…
Confess it all and tell me…
Say, who nourishes you?
Say, how many flags you serve,
How many people’s vampire?
July 1997, Ledra Palace