These are the subject areas I have most experience in: Music, History, Psychology, Clinical Studies, Medical Research Articles, Pharmaceuticals PIL and SmPC leaflets, Literature.
I am currently (Sept 2021) translating Yasemin Soysal’s bestselling book, “Tek Şişman Beyniniz”, The Only Fat Thing is Your Brain, (published in Turkey by Pozitif Yayınları).
History/Psychology/Evolution/Political Theory: My English translation of Cem Eroğul’s brilliant book “Birey Nedir”, Marxism and the Individual, has been published by Palgrave Macmillan (published in Turkey by Yordam Kitap).
Literary Translation: My translation of ‘Savaşın Çocukları’ by Ahmet Yorulmaz, has been published in the UK by Neem Tree Press and is now available worldwide in its English version, “Children of War”. You can read an extract below.
Encylopaedias: Other recent publications include the Vehbi Koç Foundation 50 Year Encyclopaedia, which is available in hardback and as an online resource. A while back in 2014, I was lucky enough to translate the fascinating Atlas of Sinan: Architectural Genius of an Empire (Sinan Atlası: İmparatorluğun Mimari Dehası), a Bilingual Atlas of the works of the architect Sinan.
Editing: I edited “The Kurds of Turkey”, written by Cuma Çicek and published by I.B. Tauris.
You can also find some traditional Turkish lullabies I translated and sang in English on my youtube music channel.
An extract from Savaşın Çocukları (Children of War) by Ahmet Yorulmaz: translated by Paula Darwish
Cretan Folk Poem
Don’t look down on the first steps
Because from there you will ascend to the palace
I’m not sure why I was given the nickname, ‘Hassan, the mirror’, to be honest. It might have been because of my immaculately polished boots, smart khaki trousers and walking cane, or maybe the red fez I always sported on my head. Maybe, it was the cravat carefully fastened under my collar with a long pin and inlaid with sparkling stones or perhaps the ring on my little finger set with a shimmering claret jewel that never failed to draw attention? Could it have been the ornate and elegant gold pendant watch that always hung from my waistcoat…?
No. Somehow, I don’t really think it could have been for any of these reasons; especially when I compare myself to other grand figures that had been around before me, such as the so called ‘fragrant Mr Nail’, who bathed his customers’ feet in special lotions brought from Europe. He used to light up the carnation in his lapel with tiny bulbs connected to a battery in his pocket by a hidden wire. At that time, there were no gas or kerosene lamps lighting the streets and when the great man passed by, the Greek women would lean out of the window to signal to each other that ‘fragrant Mr Nail’ was on his way.
So in that case, could it have been my neat moustache, swarthy skin and good height that led to the nickname? I just can’t work it out.
Maybe it was supposed to mean mirror-like but in any case, my real name is Hassan, so forget about the other ones. Don’t be fooled into thinking I was one of the wealthy Chanians because of the way I dressed. I certainly wasn’t on a par with the manager jovial Mr Ferid, who was one of the richest people in Chania. I was just one of those people, who did well by the times and was able to earn a comfortable living – something of a night owl who worked hard all day and whiled away the evenings in one of the tavernas. By the way, Mr Ferid was an incredible man. When the navies of four great countries anchored in the Chanian port of Suda, and the so-called temporary government was set up, he took French citizenship to protect himself and his property .That was during the 1897 uprising, the uprising that started with Venizelos shouting, ‘Turks out!’, ‘Greece is great!’: the uprising that threw us from our homes and villages, forced people into the big cities to try and scratch out a living; the uprising that sentenced some of us to die in fighting and left others strangled in their own fields.
As well as changing his nationality, Mr Ferid also swapped the fez on his head for a hat. Strangely enough, our women saw the fez as a sign of being a good Muslim whereas the Greeks thought it quite handsome or the sign of a womaniser. The first time the great Mr Ferid greeted me, only a mere child at the time, is one of my most unforgettable memories. We used to pass him on his way back from the farm, ambling along on his Arab horse with a hide as smooth as leather, his booted feet in the stirrups, his hands gripping a silver handled crop and the hat perched on his head.
‘Hello, my boy,’ he used to say in Greek.
In fact, he always greeted me and the family in Greek although we also heard him speaking French. We heard that he was French and we knew he didn’t speak Greek. If you ask me whether he knew any Turkish I’m afraid I might not be able to give the right answer. I always resented the fact that we didn’t really know Turkish which must have been our original language, our mother tongue. The sultans scattered us here like seeds but they didn’t take into account our language and future. How much effect could a few Turkish teachers sent over from Istanbul really have? What sort of teachers were they anyway? There was one in particular, called Master Ismail, who was famous only for his ignorance. There were numerous stories about him and one of the most popular ones concerned Master Ismail’s friends who presumed that because he was a geography teacher he would be knowledgeable, and therefore consulted him on important matters. One day his friend and fellow teacher Nasip, asked him which direction the Libyan city of Derne was from Crete. Master Ismail immediately replied, ‘In the North.’
‘But dear Master Ismail,’ replied Nesip, ‘Everyone says that Greece, I mean the place they call Hellenica, is in the North.’
Master Ismail was not happy with this response.
‘Are you telling me about this? Perhaps you think I don’t know what I’m talking about?’
‘Oh, dear Sir. If you say it’s in the North, that’s where it is, but can you just tell me where exactly is the North?’ continued Nesip.
‘Let me explain this in a way that you can’t fail to understand…. On which side is Turkey?’ asked Master Ismail.
‘To the North sir.’
‘And what language is spoken in Derne?’ continued Master Ismail.
‘Arabic,’ replied Mr Nesip.
‘And Arabic and Turkish are related, are they not?’
‘And which language is spoken in Turkey?’
‘Turkish of course!’
Master Ismail’s reply was interesting, ‘In that case, how can you possibly think that Derne is in the South!’
The African city to the south of Crete was apparently to the North just because Turkish and Arabic were spuriously related languages. Maybe the story was a bit exaggerated but no doubt it was made up to deride the incompetent teachers sent from Istanbul, festooned in their robes and turbans. Needless to say, the overall situation was far from good.
Shahmaran: hybridity, woman-and-snake and the cursed alliance
(Extract from an academic study by Dilşah Deniz)
The visual embodiment of our subject, Shahmaran, the hero of the myth, is constructed as a hybrid creature in a body that is half-woman and half-snake: an intermediate species. Accordingly, it does not belong to any species group or family and defies classification as animal or human. Rather, it stands at the crossover point between the two, simultaneously representing both whilst unable to represent either in isolation. Brought to life by a story and visual image, the melancholic figure of Shahmaran, wandering Anatolia and Mesopotamia as a manifestation of the joining of half-woman and half-snake, is almost the only depiction of a female in male dominant places which are forbidden to women.
The imagery of the picture and story is projected by way of contrasts: womanhood-manhood, nature-humanity, death-life, love-hate, compassion-oppression. Although these contrasts may seem like a confusion, they actually express the main elements of a common meaning. Subsequently, in the readings examined from now on, the whole, presented as a backdrop by these opposites, and the elements occurring in the exchange between the reader and writer of this whole will become significant.
In the existing story, the presence of snake, poison and antidote in the same body (in other words pain-and-cure/problem-and-solution in one vessel) continues the intertwined dualist imagery in a number of ways. Similarly, the representations of earth and the underworld depict a division of the universe between mankind/man (the lords of the earth) and woman/snake (rulers of the underworld). The bringing of immortality and wisdom from the underworld back to earth shows the inverted multiple narrative from another angle.
The two-headed nature of the figure, along with the meaning categories attached to one head as human and one as animal, are striking in the sense that they question the reason behind marrying the human part with a female quality, and the animal part with a male quality (as sensed from the figure). This raises the question of whether this should be seen as the antagonism or the alliance of mankind and nature. However, considering the balance of intellect and power, perhaps the question that should be asked is whether a reference is being made to the alliance of male physical strength (war/ resistance/military might) with female qualities (intelligence/management/willpower), as part of an administrative division of labour.
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