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Bejan Matur in London

Posted by Katherine Gallagher, 30th October 2012

Katherine Gallagher gives her thoughts after her reading with Bejan Matur at Wood Green Library in London on Thu 25 Oct, as part of our Arc Ventures Tour.

Bejan Matur - petite, dark-haired, soft-voiced, clear-eyed, intense. I hadn't met her before, had only seen her picture on the Arc website and in posters.

She begins her reading with a resumé of her early life, born of an Alevi Kurdish family in 1968 in South-east Turkey. She remarks how this Anatolian background has marked her forever, marked her poetry, and stayed with her as has the year she spent in prison. She mentions this last in passing - stated as part of the introduction to her reading from her second book, How Abraham Abandoned Me, recently published in bilingual edition by Arc Publications. As she reads, her poetry gathers a lyrical intensity, effects echoed by Angela Jarman in Ruth Christie's superb translations.

Matur's book is described as a philosophical pilgrimage in the Anatolian desert, a collection rich in landscape and Islamic iconography - and it is this narrative that is combed through with her ideas. It is no surprise to hear that she devotes all her time to writing poetry alongside political activism, contributing to newspapers, writing on Kurdish politics, Armenian and women's issues.

Later, during questions, the discussion turns to the role and value of translation; we celebrate it, know that our increasingly global world depends on it.