5Q Interview: Bejan Matur, 2018 IWP Resident

The Writing University conducts is a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the International Writing Program's fall residency. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.

Today we are talking with Bejan Matur, a poet and non-fiction writer from Turkey.

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1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the residency? 

During my stay in Iowa I would like to finish and prepare some texts for the publication. First I have a text of pre-war Syria which I wrote during a long stay in Aleppo in 2004. That is a very interesting poetic memoir and has stories in it here and there. The reasons why I postponed completing the text for so long are as sad and tragic as the Syrian War. My second aim is to complete the editing of my own Kurdish written poems. 

The time is very tight but I want to work further on the project that I have already begun to work on, namely a poetic biography of a monograph. It is the story of a Kurdish woman who in the early 20th century danced on stage in Italy(La Scala), Paris, Stockholm, and New York. 

2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine? 

There is no certain planned space and time for me when I get inspiration to write. It could be anywhere and any time. Mostly when I am walking in the nature I would suddenly hear a sound as I always have my pen and notebook with me I would then stop and start writing.  

However for editing I would plan my time (usually it takes few years to go back to the poetry that I wrote) and try to find a quiet room and a table to work on. This part of my work is quite structured and disciplined. I sometimes work on editing for months to find the essence of the poetry. I work on my poetry like a sculpture. I usually don’t add any lines or words. I rather carve the part that I feel that doesn’t belong to my poem. 

3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure? 

I always read couple of books at the same time. Currently, I am reading Osip Mandelstam’s Journey to Armenia and some books about archeology (such as Gobeklitepe and Zeugma mosaics).

4. What is something the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and/or your work? 

For sure my work is a reflection of my internal world which belongs to Mesopotamia. 

Through my poetry I am trying to externalize the cosmic reflection of this geography. Through this point I am trying to tell the tragedies of the people and to understand the meaning of our existence as human beings. 

5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home? 

I was born in Maraş which is on the edge of the Mediterranean. I  would call my self a Mediterranean Kurd!  My father is a farmer. I grew up between the cotton fields and the snowy mountains which used to be the land of ancient Hittites. 

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Thank You Bejan! 

Bejan will be reading with Salah Badis and Leigh Marshall (who we interviewed last year!) at Prairie Lights Bookstore at 4pm this Sunday, Sept 2, 2018: Link

Bejan MATUR (poet, non-fiction writer; Turkey), of Kurdish origin, lives in İstanbul. Her first collection of poetry, Rüzgar dolu konaklar  [Winds Howl through the Mansions] (1996), won several literary prizes. Since then she has published eight other poetry collections, most recently Aşk olmayan [Love/less] (2016); her poems are widely translated. In addition to her years as a columnist, she has worked with NGOs on conflict resolution. Her participation is made possible by an anonymous gift to IWP. http://bejanmatur.com