Daniel Evans Pritchard writes:
The Critical Flame is thrilled to present the first English publication of Melih Cevdet Anday, Oktay Rifat, and Orhan Veli’s revolutionary poetry manifesto, Garip, which appeared in Turkish in 1941. The manifesto outlines a radical break from the traditional prosody of the Turkish-Ottoman tradition, and also—perhaps because its authors were part of the second generation of global modernists—offers a reflexive meta-commentary on manifestos themselves. We are extremely grateful to Sidney Wade and Efe Murad for their translation from the Turkish and for their thoughtful introduction.
Here’s an excerpt from the Translator’s Introduction:
The classical tradition had relied heavily on the lavish use of language as well as high forms of Ottoman poetry such as aruz (an historically Arabic meter that depends on the arrangement of open and closed syllables) and the traditional Persian literary forms of the ghazal, the beyit (a couplet form), and the mesnevi (an epic form in couplets, used most often to recite romantic and panegyric tales).
In rejecting the elitism of court poetry, the Garip poets wrote simple poems in the vernacular about the ordinary details of the lives of common people, subjects not considered of interest in the classical tradition. With their use of simple imagery and pared-down language, taking as their subjects the objects and events of daily life, and eschewing meter and formal rhyme schemes, the Garip Movement poets directly opposed the unities of traditional Ottoman couplets in bringing everyday lightness and randomness into their verse.
And here’s the end of the manifesto itself:
The idea that the line should be taken as the basis of a poem makes us pay attention to each word and analyze it as the unit of a line. This practice encourages us to think of words as abstract entities in a poem and to assign beauty or ugliness to the words. However, words, like bricks in a building, are never beautiful. Plaster is never beautiful. It is only an architecture composed of these elements that is beautiful. If we beheld a building made of agate, heliotrope, and silver but which had no overarching aesthetic beauty, it could not be considered a work of art. If the words of a poem simply sound good but do not add anything of beauty to the poem itself, the poem is not a work of art.
Certain words, by long usage and convention, are considered “poetic” (şairane). We are engaged in a struggle to bring a new vocabulary to poetry and hope to rise above the old conventional use of “poetical” words. We do not confine ourselves to the old order but hope to bring fresh meaning and energy to poetry. If the reader cannot accept the use of words such as “corns,” or “Süleyman Efendi,” he or she is only interested in the passé and should confine his reading to poetry that abides by old and stale conventions. We will work against everything that belongs to the past and all outdated notions of “poeticality” in poetry.
It’s well worth reading the whole thing; even though I don’t know Turkish and have no grounding in Turkish poetry, I recognize the voice of poets who know their business and understand what modern poetry is (was?) about. Thanks, Trevor!