Gonca Özmen

- Turkey -

Gonca Özmen is considered one of the brightest and most decorated poets of her generation. In 1997, when her first poem was published in literary journal Varlık, she was named 'a poet to watch in the future' at The Yaşar Nabi Nayır Youth Prize. With her first poetry colletion Kuytumda [In My Nook], published in 2000, Özmen took the poetry scene by storm. She has not only been a prodigy, tough, and established herself as a household name in Turkish poetry.

 

Özmen created a unique and modern voice throughout her writing career with creative links to folk and classical poetry. A sense of rhythm, the most distinctive feature of her poetry, keeps her texts flowing, melting its internal element, and keeping them in a shared river bed. Despite the various emotions, themes, and poetic tools, a stylistic coherence emerges in the texts of Özmen: A flow seeking harmony. Her poetics reminds the act of an acrobat running on a tightrope maintaining its balance by advancing. Her poetry takes its energy from a self-confident lyricism, presents a playful yet ideological attitude in the background of folk culture/nature, kneads the language as a basic reflex, is ornamented with images, and all these saddlebags in a delicate balance on the rope. Özmen's poems pursue beauty, integrity, and the right attitude; occasionally, they highlight resentments and pessimism, but neither avoid fighting nor reckoning with himself.

 

Born in Burdur, Tefenni in 1982, she graduated from the Department of English Language and Literature at Istanbul University in 2004. She received her MA degree in 2008, and PhD degree in 2016 from the same department.

 

Having participated in international poetry readings in various countries abroad, Özmen was granted numerous poetry awards. Belki Sessiz [Silent Perhaps] in 2008, and Bile İsteye [Knowingly, Willingly] in 2019. Her poems have been translated into English, German, French, Spanish, Slovenian, Italian, Romanian, Persian, Greek, Hebrew and Macedonian. The Sea Within (Selected Poems) was published by Shearsman Books in 2011, and her second book Vielleicht Lautlos was published by Elif Verlag in 2017, and a collection in Macedonian was published by LAG in 2023.

 

She has also been an active figure on backstage of literature. She edited Çağdaş İrlanda Şiiri Seçkisi [Selection of Contemporary Irish Poetry] (Edisam, 2010) and İlhan Berk’s Çiğnenmiş Gül [Trampled Rose] (Yapı Kredi, 2011), a collection of unpublished poems of the poet after the great Turkish poet’s death. She sat on the editorial board of a literary translation magazine Ç.N. [Translator's Note], and the literary magazines Pulbiber [Chilli Flakes] and Çevrimdışı Istanbul [Offline Istanbul].

 

She was one of the members of the advisory board of Bursa Nilüfer International Poetry Festival, Three Seas Writers’ and Translators’ Council (TSWTC) based in Rhodes, the magazine, Turkish Poetry Today, which was published annually by Red Hand Books, in England.

 

Efe Duyan