(Interview of Serkan Engin performed by Nepalese poet Pramod Dhital who is the editor of the Nepal based international online literal portal SHABDA SHIKHA)
– Serkan Engin, Poet
A socialist Laz-Turk poet and author Serkan Engin was born in 1975 in Izmit, Turkey.His poems and articles on poetry theory have appeared in more than fifty literary journals in Turkey. In 2004, he published a poem manifesto, entitled Imagist Socialist Poetry. He has been trying to launch a new movement in Turkish poetry and to this end has published numerous articles about literary theory.
His poems and articles on poetry theory have been published in English in many international literary journals all over the world like The Tower Journal, Poetry’z Own, Belleville Park Pages, Far Enough East, Spilt Infinitive Lit Magazine, Empty Mirror, The Writer’s Drawer, Poetry Super Highway, Miracle E-zine, Industry Night Lit Magazine, Open Road Review, Shot Glass Journal, The Criterion and Mediterranean Poetry. Some of his poems appeared in Japanese in the leading Japanese philosophy and poetry journal Shi to Shisou.
Also his poems and articles on poetry theory have been translated into Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Persian and Bengali. Some of his poems in English have been accepted to international thematic poetry anthologies.
He is the first Turkish poet in history who has written a poem on Armenian Genocide. His poem named “Barbarian and Ms Daisy” which has been dedicated to the victims of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides has been accepted to the Armenian Poetry Project in 2015.
His political articles on Islam and also Armenian, Assyrian, Greek genocides have been published in many countries in many languages including Sweden, USA, Greece, India, France, Argentina, Netherland, Armenia, Indonesia and Finland.
Pramod Dhital: Let’s start our conversation from your daily activities. In which affairs are you busy nowadays?
Serkan Engin: I am working as a freelance translator from English to Turkish and from Turkish to English in Turkey for translation offices. Also I am translating literary books, I have recently translated narration book of Turkish author Omer Gok living in Kazakhstan from Turkish to English named “Prolog”. It is due to be published in USA. And I continue to write poems and articles on poetry theory, as well as political articles on Islam as an Ex-Muslim author and articles on Armenian, Greek, Assyrian genocides of my Turkish ancestors.
Pramod Dhital: What compels you to write?
Serkan Engin: Pain and anger. Pain and anger compel me to write, not only mine, also all pain and anger of the oppressed humans of the world. I am trying to be voice of all oppressed, despised, ignored, exploited, beaten, insulted, neglected, abused, molested humans in the world on poetry platform as I had mentioned in my essay on my own poetry ethics which can be considered as an international poetry manifesto named “Revenge of the Imagist Socialist Poetry”.
(see: http://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/features/literature/revenge-of-the-imagist-socialist-poetry.html )
Pramod Dhital: Would you describe something what is your background of coming to literary field?
Serkan Engin: First, I had started to write to cure my pain, they I had transformed to be a poet and author which was trying to cure the pain of all suffering humans.
Pramod Dhital: What is your purpose of writing literature?
Serkan Engin: As I had mentioned in my short essay about my poetry struggle named “Imagist Socialist Poetry: A Short Guide”: I am an imagist socialist poet. That means I support poetry which has imagist form and socialist content. As a socialist poet, my mission is to be the voice of the worker and the working classes, and the voice of all those who are despised, ignored and excluded from society. As socialist poets, we have to create awareness through our poems about the alienation caused by capitalism. I have therefore written poems about the suffering of child laborers, the tragedy of homosexuals, the pain of street kids, and the sadness of prostitutes, among others.
Pramod Dhital: Can literature become the weapon of social transformation?
Serkan Engin: Of course not only alone, but it can/will make contribution in this social transformation by raising the awareness and the aesthetic and ethical perception ability of the readers. You can find more about details of my view on this issue in my article on poetry theory named “Imagist Socialist Poetry and Artistic Reality.”
Pramod Dhital: In your view,what is and should be the relation between creation and creator ?
Serkan Engin: I never write any poem, essay or article, they make me write themselves.
Pramod Dhital: From the perspective of ideology, what type of literary wing or movement is dominant in your country now?
Serkan Engin: In my country, Turkey, the postmodern poetry is dominant and as an imagist socialist poet, I have a struggle against his poetry movement by my critical articles.
Pramod Dhital: What is poetry for you?
Serkan Engin: I am God of Poetry and at the same time slave of it.
Pramod Dhital: What type of books do you like to read and who are your favorite writers?
Serkan Engin: Mostly I like to read books about recent history and philosophy. My favorite writers/poets are Friedrich Nietzsche, Attila Jozsef and Nikola Vaptsarov.
Pramod Dhital: What are you reading and writing nowadays?
Serkan Engin: Nowadays, I am accumulating to write. A real author is in writing process 24/7. Writing is a complicated process, but we can divide it into two main stage: 1- Accumulating to write. 2- Action moment of writing. The first stage is the most important part of being/living (as) an author. Writing is the existence way of a real author/poet in ontological manner. We create ourselves by writing and this is not a “part-time” job, but a 24/7 living style.
Pramod Dhital: Are you agreed with the saying that literary writing is also a kind of politics?
Serkan Engin: Of course. In fact, all actions of all humans are political even they act non-political, because you cannot escape from politics in any part of your life. And my poetry struggle, imagist socialist poetry, has a tough political backbone.
Pramod Dhital: What are the burning issues and problems for writing in your country?
Serkan Engin: You can easy be sent to jail in Turkey or be murdered because of writing against Islam or writing the truth on Armenian, Assyrian, Greek genocides of your Turkish ancestors.
Pramod Dhital: What is the process of taking birth of poem within you?
Serkan Engin: I accumulate to write and then the Poetry orders me to write itself.
Pramod Dhital: How is the situation of socialist cultural and literary movement in your country?
Serkan Engin: It has a big background in the past, but nowadays, as I said before; postmodern poetry is dominant in Turkey.
Pramod Dhital: Whose names would you like to take as your favorite old and new writers?
Serkan Engin: I want to mention Turan Dursun first, the biggest Ex-Muslim author in Turkey who had been murdered by Islamist terrorist because of his book criticizing Islam. Also I want to mention two young Turkish poets named Zafer Ekin Karabay and Ozge Dirik who had committed suicide when they were still very young and couldn’t see their published books even they were good poets because of the vampire publishing system in Turkey requesting money from even the good poets for publishing their books.
Pramod Dhital: What are the weakness and strongness of new writers in your view?
Serkan Engin: Not reading enough about the literary/art theories and thinking on them.
Pramod Dhital: What message would you like to give to our Nepalese writers?
Serkan Engin: I can suggest them and also all of us to walk through our own path on the art platform which is never passed before in the art history.
Pramod Dhital: What is your philosophy of life?
Serkan Engin: Creating myself step by step by my own way.
Pramod Dhital: What is the greatest lesson which you got from your life experience?
Serkan Engin: Making kids happy is the most important thing in the life. One single smile of a kid is more important than all art pieces, all ideologies, money, awards, success, etc. I want a gravestone in the form of a clown sculpture because of being able to make kids smile after my death.