Culture, Life

Necip Fazil Kisakurek: Turkish 'Sultan of Poets'

Renowned poet remembered 36 years after his death

Erdogan Cagatay Zontur   | 25.05.2019
Necip Fazil Kisakurek: Turkish 'Sultan of Poets'

ANKARA

Turkish poet, novelist and activist Necip Fazil Kisakurek is being commemorated Saturday on the 36th anniversary of his passing.

Born on June 9, 1904 to Abdulbaki Fazil Bey and Mediha Hanim, Kisakurek is also known for his works on Islamic thought.

He received his primary education in many schools, including the French School, Robert College, and the Naval School in Istanbul.

Kisakurek’s interest in poetry was sparked when he was still a high school student. He published his first magazine, Nihal, in 1916, when he at the Naval School.

Remembering those early years, he later said: “That school made me who I am today.”

His first poems were published in 1922 in Yeni Mecmua, a magazine founded by poet, novelist, and politician Ziya Gokalp and published by novelist and diplomat Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu and others.

In 1924, Kisakurek published his first book of poetry, Orumcek Agi (Spider Net). In 1928 he published Kaldirimlar (Pavement), a second volume that burnished his reputation.

Kusakurek’s works were spiritual, isolationist, and sentimentalist, exploring divine unity. But in 1934, Kisakurek meeting religious figure Abdulhakim Arvasi was to affect his life and works.

“My life was flowing in a stream trying to find a magnificent thing. I was looking for someone in sensitivity of a somehow spiritless cause. Someone…” Kisakurek said in I and him, an autobiographical book.


'Great East'

His play Tohum (Seed), focusing on Islam and Turks, was staged in 1935 at the Istanbul City Theaters by Muhsin Ertugrul, a Turkish actor and director. Telling the story of a playwright’s desperation, Bir Adam Yaratmak (To Create a Man) got public attention when it was first staged two years later.

Kisakurek wrote a poem titled Buyuk Dogu (Great East) in 1938 for a competition. In 1943, he founded a magazine of the same name. Using pen names, he wrote on Islamic culture and values in the magazine.

But the provincial government closed the magazine in 1947 due to a poem it republished by Riza Tevfik about Abdul Hamid II, one of the last Ottoman sultans.

Due to his articles and publications allegedly “insulting Turkishness,” Kisakurek was arrested and served a little over a month in prison.

On Dec. 11, 1952, Kisakurek wrote his book titled Now I Rip off Your Mask, telling of his time in prison along with other memories and thoughts since 1943.

In 1973 Necip Fazil Kisakurek directed his son, Emrah, to found a publishing house titled Great East which reprinted his previous works.

Intellectual and artist

In 1980, the Turkish Literature Association named Kisakurek the “Sultan of Poets” -- only the second person to receive that honor -- and in 1982 the “Intellectual and Artist of the Year.”

Kisakurek died on May 25, 1983 and was buried in Eyup Sultan Cemetery in Istanbul.

The renowned poet’s personal belongings, photos, manuscripts, and memoirs are exhibited in Necip Fazil Kisakurek Culture and Research Foundation in Umraniye, Istanbul.

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