Sacred Oak Grove

If you spend long enough in Canakkale and are sufficiently observant, you may notice there’s quite a lot of oak trees around. Once you see them, you realise that there are several in little groups dotted around the landscape, apparently lost in a sea of wheat, or with goats grazing the stubby grass around them. There is a nice example in Troy as you move past the sanctuary toward the caves and see that there is a little grove of oak Click for more

Hope and Change

I grew up fed on a diet of Star Trek, both original and Next Generation, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. My science fiction was for the most part idealistic; as humans our ingenuity could solve all problems even the ones we created ourselves. I discovered Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy in university and again idealism won out; Mars was transformed, a multicultural society created and humanity even was freed from the limitations of heavy earth gravity. Things didn’t always Click for more

Away

  A few months ago I spent a week in Istanbul. The first few days were shrouded in mist and damp. Mealtimes were announced by the cries of hungry seagulls circling around the building, screaming for the bread thrown out the windows.   Though right in the centre of Istanbul, we were on an island. I could see Fatih Mosque and Suleymaniye and Beyazit Tower. I could look out into hidden parks, and wonder.       We escaped one Click for more

Against the Clock

Review of ‘Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü’ by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Dergah 1961 (17th Print 2012) This wonderful book tells the story of Hayri Irdal, a man adrift from the times he lives in. He begins as a successful member of the Time Regulation Institute, but very quickly we learn that it’s all gone wrong and he proceeds to tell his rambling story. He grew up in the shadow of a clock called Mubarek (blessed) though his father occasionally cursed it as Click for more

Get Real

It can be easy to assume that life exists in the screen these days. It’s where work comes from and friendships are kindled and continued, it’s where we go for entertainment and distraction and, especially relevant in Turkey, our source for news. As I write there are 3 screens in front of four people in this sitting room. (One now replaced by a tiny square of cardboard and 6 disks, providing a far more engaging game.) In order to pay Click for more

Pinning the Butterfly

I’ve been putting off writing this blogpost. It feels a little like pinning down a butterfly. Flying around it creates wonderful glimpses of colour but I know if I don’t pin it down, it will flutter on its way and the memory of it will fade. I attended a poetry workshop in the local university a few weeks ago. It’s the first time to my knowledge that an English-language poetry workshop has been held so I jumped at the chance Click for more

Falling Off the Wagon

It’s not been long. I’ve only been on the wagon (that would be the writing and blogging wagon) for the last month. I can already feel I’m flagging. Now I could say it started last week when I failed to get a post up, but that would be denying the scale of the problem. It probably began before that when I spent a day idling and feeling blue. I did not write the two posts I had planned and I Click for more

An Uncomfortable Truth

This post transported me back to the early days after moving to this town. When it was all new and foreign and different. We wanted out. We were not going to have children here, not going to buy a house here, definitely not going to send the kids to school here. Twelve years later here we are. Still here. The town has changed in some ways; it’s a little prettier, has sprawled and is more crowded. There are signs of community at Click for more

Loss

Review of ‘Bir Türk Ailesinin Öykusu’ by İrfan Orga Translated by Dr. Arın Bayraktaroğlu Everest 2009 I was a little confused when I bought this book. I thought as it was written by a Turk, that it had been first published in Turkish. I was wrong. It was first published in 1950 in the UK under the name “Portrait of a Turkish Family”. It was published in Turkish 44 years later. It tells the story of İrfan Orga from his Click for more

Outlining the Plan

One of the things that aids a good procrastinator, sorry I mean distracts a good writer, is that there is endless debate about the best way to go about writing. So first you must decide if you are a planner or not. This refers to whether you will plan your manuscript to the last comma before setting pen to paper or whether you just sit down and let it all flow freely. I’m not sure either of these extremes really Click for more