On November 15th, Margaret Atwood writes to Asl? Erdo?an in a Turkish prison: “you are not alone”
For Asli Erdogan,
Imprisoned 91 days,
15 November, 2016
“Like you, I and many, many other writers believe that literature can inspire the longing for justice, can generate tolerance, and can expand human sympathy and understanding.” Margaret Atwood
On November 15th, Margaret Atwood
Asli Erdogan in a Turkish prison:
“you are not alone“, she says.
i am not so sure of that, Margaret.
I think, maybe, we are all alone.
There are many prisons
and this enormous one now in Turkey
is just one
on a long list
of human torments:
of “concrete walls”, “barbed wire”, and “locks and keys”
that oppress us.
You write also:
“I hope that you will find yourself in a Turkey
where you can write and speak without fear and censorship.”
Right on, sisters,
but you might be waiting a while for this,
in President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s Turkey,
this one we see now in the news
and the one Orsola writes of
from the borders of Kurdistan and beyond,
these sharp edges that twist and shape our lives.
It’s not that i keep thinking of Nazim Hikmet
who survived all but it still broke his heart:
“I look at the night through the bars,
and despite the weight on my chest
my heart still beats with the most distant stars.”
(April, 1948. “Angina Pectoris”)
or Sakine Cans?z and her friends, shot dead
Still, our hearts go out to you Asl?,
you know that.
We are not depressed
(of course we are! but that’s not
the fucking end of this story).
We know human beings have been struggling a long time
to end the darkness that swallows you,
this nightmare called history,
this stone instead of a heart!
This cold prison instead of humanity!
And, somehow, the fact that we are able
across these immeasurable distances,
beyond all catastrophe and privilege
all contradiction and cruelty,
must mean something,
even in the dark at night
when I wake, alone, and hear
of your disappearance.
Sources & References
Image, thanks to:
By Konto na chwil? (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Poems of Nazim Hikmet, trans. Blasing & Konuk, Persea, (1994, 2002)
Asl? Erdo?an, writer, born in Istanbul, was taken into custody during the police raid on Özgür Gündem on 16 August 2016. She was detained on 17 August 2016 for being a member of the advisory board of the newspaper. On 20 August, she was arrested and jailed for pretrial detention. “Erdo?an, a member of Özgür Gündem’s advisory board, was sent to a jail in Istanbul on preliminary charges of “membership of terrorist organisation” and “undermining national unity.” “Özgür Gündem was quickly succeeded by Özgürlükçü Demokrasi (“Libertarian democracy”), which featured a daily column called “Asl?’s Friends”. Wikipedia tells us…