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It has been announced that the Brussels-based European Prize – Homer Medal of Poetry and Art would be awarded to the poet and writer Ataol Behramoğlu this year (2016).
Behramoğlu has reportedly been deemed worthy of the prize by the foundation on the grounds that he was considered an “outstanding Turkish poet, translator and an important writer on the international level” and that “humanism and artistic independence” were to be found in his works.
European Prize – Homer Medal of Poetry and Art granted to internationally appreciated poets will be awarded to Behramoğlu on September 28, Wednesday at 6 p.m. at a ceremony in Nazım Hikmet Culture and Arts Foundation in Şişli.
Poet and writer Dariusz Lebioda will hand over the prize as the president of the council of the European Prize – Homer Medal of Poetry and Art.
About Ataol Behramoğlu
He was born in 1942 in Çatalca. His first collection of poems was published in 1965. Behramoğlu is graduate of the University of Ankara Department of Russian Language and Literature in 1966.
In 1970 he published his second book of verse “One Day Definitely”. Reprinted many times until today, this collection of poems was well received as a synthesis of the poetic tradition of Nazım Hikmet (1902-1963) with elements of symbolism and surrealism. In the Autumn of 1970 he left Turkey to travel abroad to broaden his studies of language and literature. He lived in London and Paris until the Autumn of 1972. In Paris he met with Pablo Neruda and Louis Aragon. Fragments of “One Day Definitely” was published in Les Lettres Françaises edited by Aragon. He participated in the founding of Theatre de Liberté based in Paris and wrote texts to “Legendes à Venir”, the first spectacle of the group. During this period his translations were published in Turkey; Pushkin’s Collected Novels and Short Stories (2 Vos.); The short stories of M. Gorky plays of Chekov.
Between November 1972 and June 1974 he worked as a researcher/ assistant at Moscow State University’s Faculty of Russian Philology, Chair of Russian and Soviet Literature.
His third book of poetry called “Poems of the Road, Longing, Courage and Struggle” was published in Turkey in 1974.
With the return to democracy in Turkey he went back to his country and worked as a dramaturg in İstanbul Municipal Theatre.
At these period of 70’s the other collections of poems came out: “Neither Rain… Nor Poems” (1976), “During the Siege” (1978), “The Epic of Moustapha Suphi” (1979), “Quatrins” (1980). During a trip to Greece in 1977 he met Yannis Ritsos.
Following the military takeover of September 12,1980, was forced to resign from his post at the İstanbul Municipal Theatre. A new edition of his “Neither Rain… Nor Poems” published in 1981 was confiscated. Behramoğlu was detained and kept under custody for some time.
In 1981 he collected a series of humoristic and critical poems under the title “Wanted: A Good Citizen” and set these to music a cabaret act. This work of political satire was staged several times and regarded as one of the first examples of turkish political cabaret.
A selection of Behramoğlu’s poetry was translated into Greek and published by Sinhroni Epohi along with a laudatory attention of Ritsos (1981). He published in İstanbul his own translations of poems selected from the work of Aragon, Brecht, A. Jozsef, Lorca, José Marti, Maiakovsky, Neruda, Petöfi, Pushkin, Ritsos and others under the title “Ballads of Brotherhood”.
Was arrested in March 1982 along with the other executive committee members of the Turkish Peace Association. Was kept under atrocious conditions in Maltepe Military Prison until November 1982, when they have conditionally been released.
He was awarded the Lotus Prize by the Afro-Asian Writers Union in 1982.
On November 1983, at the session of the Turkish peace Association Trial which he did not attend, he was sentenced to 8 years hard labour followed by 32 months internal exile. He had to leave his country.
In 1984 he began to participate in the work of Sorbonne’s National İnstitute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations, at the Center for Comparative Poetry. Represented Turkey in the International Poetry Festival organized in Rotterdam.
In 1985 he was awarded an M. A (Diplomes D’etudes Approfondies/ D.E.A) from the Center Comparative Poetry for his study on the poetries of N. Hikmet and Maiakovsky. At the same year in Germany his two new books of poetry were published in Turkish: “Turkey, My Sad Country, My Beautiful Land” and “Letters to My Daughter”.
In 1986, the Turkish Literary and Cultural Magazine Anka began to be published under his direction in French language.
In 1986 his critical essays and polemics about the problems of poetry were published under the title of “A Living Poetry”.
In 1987/88 his “Epic of Moustapha Suphi” was put on stage by Turkish Theatre Group in Exile and represented in several cities in Europe. In Avignon Theatre Festival it was acclaimed as the first play in Turkish (1989).
While Behramoğlu was participating in several meetings in many countries of world (from Australia to Finland) to read his poems and lectures to the Turkish and other audiences, in İstanbul were published “The Anthology of Turkish Poetry Last Century” and “The Anthology of Russian Poetry”, both having been prepared by the poet since the beginning of 80’s. In 1988 a selection of his poems was translated and published in Hungary by the “Europe” Publishing House.
Acquitted of all condamnations he returned to Turkey in 1989. He published his collected poems in three volumes (1991-1992).
“Be Happy Nazım”, a musical on the last period of life of Nazım Hikmet (Translated commented and prepared for the scene by A. Behramoğlu at the base of memories n. Hikmet’s widow Vera Tulyakovs and the poems of N. Hikmet) was performed several times in Turkey and abroad. (1992)
“Lozan”, a documentary musical, commenting the historical events in Lozan afterwards the Independence War of Turkey was performed by the Turkish state theatre in Antalya and in İstanbul (1993).
He worked as the president of Turkish Writers Syndicate between 1995-1999, and has still been working in the literary and political critic at the cadre of daily “Cumhuriyet” since 1995. His poems are widely translated and published in several foreign languages. İn 2003 he was awarded “The Grand Prize of Poetry 2003” by Turkish International P.E.N. (YY/DG)