From Istanbul to Berlin: Stations on the Road to a Transcultural/Translational Literature

in German Politics and Society
Author: Azade Seyhan
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In this article, I read selected texts of two of the most prominent Turkish born authors of Berlin, Aras Ören and Emine Sevgi Özdamar, as poetic projects of confronting and grasping the vicissitudes of modernity's troubled path both in their homeland and in their experience of German history and culture. My reasons for the emphasis on the work of these writers derives from their various positions between two languages and literary traditions and their ability to negotiate various nuances of "German" and "Turk" and the lived experience of these contested categories. "A poet is a member of that minority that refuses to be part of any official minority, because a poet knows what it is to belong among those walking in broad daylight, as well as those hiding behind closed shutters," writes Charles Simic, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet from the former Yugoslavia. Ören, a Wahlberliner (a Berliner by choice), is arguably the keenest observer and chronicler of cultural clashes and shared destinies between the Turkish and German residents of Berlin's Kreuzberg area. The streets of Ören's Kreuzberg become stages where the competing errors of Turkish and German pasts are reenacted in the present.

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