Honoured by the Lyric Poetry Group on March 26 at the
Atatürk Cultural Centre Nicosia
By Heidi Trautmann
“Call me Kansu, nobody calls me Mehmet, I am Kansu; the ‘su’
in my name (meaning water) is very important to me. We live on an island with
‘su’ all around but we don’t behave like sea people. We rather sit under a tree
up in the mountain and look down onto the sea, or we sit under an umbrella and
drink our coffee, but ‘su’ is not part of our lives. In 300 poems written by
Turkish Cypriot elementary and secondary school students, perhaps just in one
the word ‘deniz’ is mentioned,” Kansu says.
This is the way Kansu introduced himself to me when I
conducted the interview with him some time ago. I have often met him and his
wife Inci Kansu the artist, both are - not only in my eyes - very important
representatives of literature and art in Cyprus. Kansu was born in 1938 in
Nicosia and was educated to be a teacher of Turkish language and literature. Nonetheless
he published 32 books of poetry and short stories in his life time.
55 years in the service of literature, this fact was
reason for his friends from the Lyric Poetry Group to celebrate the day together
with him. Merter Refikoğlu, Serkan Soyalan, Şehbal Hamzaoğulları, Yıltan Taşçı
and Cemay Onalt Müezzin and the musicians Reşat Kortan (guitar), Fatih Girgin
(flute) and Reyhan Yalovalı (violin) organised the evening and some old friends
and colleagues came to pay their respects, congratulate him and deliver
speeches: Christos Hadjipapas former president from the Writers Union in the
South with whom he did a lot for the education of young people by creating
writing competitions¸ Prof. Dr. Oğuz Karakartal from CIU Cyprus International
University he worked together with on many occasions; Assistant Prof. Dr. Sevket
Öznur from Near East University for the Turkish Language and Literature, and
his old schoolmate, poet and writer Dr. Ibrahim Aziz.
“My true mother is actually the Mesarya, I was born into her
lap, my biological mother was working in the field. I wrote my first poems at
lycée which were published in the Lycée’s art magazines.” Kansu graduated from the Gazi Educational
Institute, Literature Department in Ankara in1960, before moving on to
Hacettepe University for postgraduate studies, followed by a three month course
in Glasgow in 1976. Between 1960 and 1983 he served his country as a Turkish
language teacher at various secondary schools and lycées, after which he was
appointed to work within the Ministry of Education as an inspector and sub-director
of basic education.
Ode to Mesarya –
Hot valley where I
knelt down so often
I saw two small white clouds
so close to the Earth.
Murmuring ‘su’ I am the second part of my name
I wished I could flow in this
white pebbled stream bed.
I was told that the sea is
but life in the sea is
My dreams went to the west of
where the water moths were
As a child I knew the colour
of their bodies,
now I have nothing but wind
left in the palm of my hand.
You were a marshy valley and I
knelt down beside you
and in your lap trees grew by
I was the salt in your face.
Kansu, June 21/2005 – AFRIKA
In one of his short stories books ‘The Green Frog, The Snake and The Hunter’ – it was his 21st
published book - includes the short
story of an encounter between a snake and a frog, observed by a resting
hunter. These are stories which draw
attention to insignificant events in our lives, which many of us may overlook.
He also writes modern prose poems and he always has manuscripts
on the shelf waiting to be published. What is a modern prose poem, I ask.
“Poetic images in sentences, for example, like these lines from one of my poems: Those horses like giant birds/ awakening the
winds/ will vanish into emptiness/ through the crimson sunset.
Kansu’s first book ‘The
Life of Two’ was published in 1959, a joint work with North Cyprus poet
Fikrit Demirağ. One poem in
this book is...
Not to worry
You should wear
Then gather all the
Memories of you
From old days to
And throw them
M. Kansu 1959
Kansu explained to me the movements of Turkish poetry and Turkish
Cypriot poetry, these are not only the poetry movements from Turkey coming over
in waves but also the movements from around the world are very influential;
poets communicate, they travel, recite and listen; poetry and its meaning goes
parallel with changes in society, politics, war and peace.
Kansu has always kept his senses wide open and smelt the
smoke rising from the fields of war. “It is just as I always do, I observe and
pick up signs, threads; hear, read and research and create images. I am not the
person to lay the finger into the wound or direct my accusing letters right
into the eyes of the accused, I instead bring to the fore the view of an honest
life, a view beyond the complaints about daily stress, directing the eyes
towards beauty in small details, in honour of the beauty of our world; creating
– in my case, narrating – revealing the truth about all things, small things, to
people; this is my way. I have trained my sense of awareness and exclude the
unnecessary”....like meditation, I ask.....?
“Whatever you do in life, if it is an act of proper creation,
it becomes art, the art of narrating, if you cut wood, do a drawing or painting,
write a story, a poem, even bake a cake, this is art. The description of a
creation, this is narration.”
In a short while Kansu will publish his 33rd
book. May his eyes continue to find many small things that fire his imagination
and may his pool of words be deep and always be filled with new inspiration.