Turkey is the center for some of history’s most dramatic events, so it’s ideal to have great minds draw inspiration from the heritage, politics, and general lifestyle. Here is a list of famous poets from ancient times to the contemporary who helped shape the Turkish poetic heritage or are currently doing so.
In 1885, the wife of an Ottoman district governor, Sanjak of Fizan, gave birth to the boy that became Ahmet Hashim (1885–1933). At the age of eight, Ahmet followed his father to Istanbul, where he began primary education. He finished secondary education at Mekteb–i–Sultani, then entered the law school in Istanbul. Ahmet later worked as a lecturer for aesthetics in the Academy of Fine Arts and Istanbul University, teaching French. Hasim’s collection in Gol Saatleri and Piyale, had influences from Reigner de Regnier, Cenab, Shahabuddin (1870–1934), Tevfik Fikret (1867–1915), etc.
Asaf Hâlet Çelebi (1907–1958) Born Asaf Halet, but later added Celeb for religious reasons. He took influence from the life of famous Sufi mystics, Rumi. Celebi took inspiration from studying books on Buddhism philosophies in the library. Asaf later worked as a librarian for the Philosophy Department in the Faculty of Letters, Istanbul. Celebi’s poetry transitioned from the Ottoman court literature style to Western literature. Celebi did not publish any work until 1938, when the abstract method was uncommon.
Attila then (1925–2005) began education in Izmir but quickly became popular from a young age for getting involved with Nazim Hikmet’s work. He was jailed at 16 years for about 2 months for having a communist orientation. Attila later moved on to complete high school education before enrolling in Law School. Famous poems from him include Cabbaroglu Mehemmed and Duvar. Attila is renowned for Turkish literature contributions in writing novels as well as in screenwriting.
Süreyya Aylin Antmen (1981) was exposed to writing from her early years. She wrote her first at 13 years, although, only made her first publishing in 2004 in Patika Poetry review. Sureyya was an alumnus of Anadolu University, where she studied Philosophy and Sociology. She wrote the famous Turkish work Sonsuzluga Kiraci, which was recognized at Yasar Navi Nayir Youth Award in 2008. Some have been translated into languages that include English, French, Urdu.
Sunay Akin(1962) is a poet, an author, a TV producer, and a lecturer at Marmara University. He published in 1984, after graduation from Istanbul University. Sunay published two magazines, Yeni Yaprak and Olmaz, within six years. Sunay’s poetic style is unique, with a calm tone that is also lyrical. He regularly performs original compositions at events around the country, especially in Istanbul.
Lale Müldür (1956) is an influential contemporary Turkish poet that has won many awards for her poetry. Muldur traveled abroad for poetry scholarship in Italy, then traveled to the UK for degree programs. Her works have international recognition; some were produced by singers into music, most notably, Yeni Turku’s “Destina”. Muldur’s poems include her multiple award-winning Ulta-zone’da Ultrason, Buhurumeryam, Voyicir II, some have translations in French and English.
Yunus Emre (1238–1321) was far from the contemporary literary events in Turkey but had a legacy that lives on after him since he died in 1321 AD. Emre’s works had a great influence on Sufi in Turkey, as well as renaissance poets of 20 century. Emre was an introverted personality that drew inspiration from solitude and events around him, especially the Mongol invasion in Anatolia. Emre’s unique poems are referred to as “Divan,” which appear in various copies, such as Niazi, Balikesir, and Yahya Effendi copies. Yunus Emre’s Divan is unique for its highlights on human values, love, social peace, etc.
Yahya Kemal Beyatl (1884–1958), born Ahmed Agah, was a poet, politician, and diplomat. Regarded as one of Turkish Literature’s Four Aruzcular, poems from him created the meeting point for Divan with a latter literary style. Beyatli started his poet career in 1902 under the pseudonym Agah Kemal. He then published with two magazines, Malumat and Servet-i Fünuncu rtika. Yahya’s works showed the commitment he had for the country’s history and politics. Beyatli had varying themes for poems, such that there are symbolist, parnian, while others are simply romantic or classic.
There are many more poets, like Tevfik Fikret, Mehmet Âkif Ersoy, and Nazim Hikmet, with Turkish ancestry that were not mentioned in this piece. But their works are there on the international stage to forever speak for them.