Heidi Trautmann

08 Jun: Presentation of Tamer Öncül's new book 'YER' at 1984 Restaurant Nicosia

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 This definition is dead, it has been replaced by ‘barbaric’, we have returned to the level of barbarians, living beings who are only interested in satisfying their basic needs and their insatiable greed.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.”


Our Wall

To Niyazi and Panikos

Look! I am just in the middle

Ugly, protruding vertebras

Of your humpback…

Your rusty, breakable bones

Are crackling

Under my feet

You, I

And terrible searchlights

Are illuminating

The desolation’s lie.

Look! I am alone on your back…

The people, your creators,

Stayed behind and in front of me…

                They all together gaze at their pains

                Inflicted 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

By passport.


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

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