• konstandinos p. kavafis

    April 14th, 2013

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    Ιδανικές φωνές κι αγαπημένες

    εκείνων που πεθάναν, ή εκείνων που είναι

    για μας χαμένοι σαν τους πεθαμένους.

    Κάποτε μες στα όνειρά μας ομιλούνε·

    κάποτε μες στην σκέψι τες ακούει το μυαλό.

    Και με τον ήχο των για μια στιγμή επιστρέφουν

    ήχοι από την πρώτη ποίησι της ζωής μας —

    σα μουσική, την νύχτα, μακρυνή, που σβύνει.

    (Από τα Ποιήματα 1897-1933, Ίκαρος 1984)

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    Voices, loved and idealized,

    of those who have died, or of those

    lost for us like the dead.

    Sometimes they speak to us in dreams;

    sometimes deep in thought the mind hears them.

    And with their sound for a moment return

    sounds from our life’s first poetry—

    like music at night, distant, fading away.

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    Yesterday was one of many special days in Yeniköy when the Neo Hellenic poet C.P. Cavafy was commemorated by a huge crowd. Rather than write at length about the experience, I thought I’d post the poem Voices (translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard) from the official website of the  poet’s estate.

    Posted in Books & Lit, People | | No Comments
  • that london book fair

    March 5th, 2013

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    Today I just wanted to take some time to give a shout out to friend and frequent collaborator, Simon Johnson, who has taken his small, bicycle-delivered cult publication THAT from the streets of Istanbul to Art Dubai and now to the London Book Fair. A special LBF issue is about to hit the presses showcasing just a small portion of this city’s tremendous local talent and will be distributed throughout the fair, which runs from April 15-17 at Earl’s Court. The LBF is one of the world’s most important meetings of agents, publishers and authors, where deals are brokered and fresh talent comes to light. It’s also further indication that print, especially independent print, is still a very meaningful medium of expression. Whether you’re a writer, photographer, illustrator, or artist THAT continues to go places and take its contributors with it. Should you be interested in getting some good press for your work, consider submitting ideas to THAT Magazine via dubfield@yahoo.com (a.k.a Monsieur Editor-In-Chief). You never know where THAT will lead you.

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  • Rummaging in the past: Aslıhan Pasajı

    December 17th, 2012

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    Today was a truly miserable, wet day. On top of that, the weather was bad. Perhaps on days like this there are few better refuges than the world of books. Fortunately, I had a chance between meetings wandering through Beyoğlu to pop into this fantastic pasaj just off the Balık Pazarı. This place is crammed full of interesting books, documents, newspapers and media from another time — to such an extent that you could totally lose all sense of the here and now. A good thing, in my opinion, especially on a day like today.

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     Galatasaray, Beyoğlu/İstanbul‎  34435

  • Let Emel be your guide

    September 12th, 2012

    Last night I was happy to attend a book party for the kind of book I normally don’t like: a guide! But this was no boring old Fodor’s or Lonely Planet. Instead these books were prepared by an artist and a true insider of two cities. Published by Jotun and entitled Emel loves Istanbul and Emel love Paris, I’m more than a little envious. Why? Because Emel Kurhan has proven again that no genre or idea is bad or irrelevant if approached with inspiration and style, something she has in an unlimited supply. These guides are really clever, and beautifully executed. Using her own snap shots and immaculately hand-written post-it notes, Emel has re-invented the guidebook for people like me who don’t want use guidebooks and would normally much prefer to just stumble around or find someone who looks much smarter than themselves to show them around in order to avoid being stuck on some generic tour.

    If you’re in Istanbul, Emel’s doing a book signing tomorrow night, September 13, beginning at around 7 pm at Midnight Express in Nişantaşı as part of Istanbul’s Fashion’s Night Out. Don’t miss it. Istanbul loves Emel.

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  • XOXO the Mag

    September 5th, 2012

    One of the reasons I’ve been posting somewhat less often these days is I’ve had some interesting work from the  print world. The latest is from the September issue of local Fashion-Music-Art-Design glossy bible XOXO the Mag. In this month’s issue I had the good fortune to work with Turkish wordsmith Lale Kayabey and her chef husband Selcuk Aruk on a food article about Turkey’s Greek community, food and the lifestyle of  Yeniköy living.

    After photographing the food — savory fish soup, cinnamon and rosemary mussels and rice, and güllaç (rose-flavored rice pudding) we all sat back and consumed it. And believe me, after staring at each dish for so long to find the right shot, you really work up an appetite. Directly above and below are a couple of examples of the food. I look forward to working with this talented team again, and hope to steal some more of their recipes.

    XOXO the Mag appears in Istanbul’s cooler local cafes and dining establishments,
    as well as my local balık-ekmekçi (top).

  • Salt Galata

    June 7th, 2012

    Yesterday I decided I wanted to experience the audio exhibit Translated By, a series of 13 performed excerpts from books, and one original piece, by various writers about different cities and landscapes, some imagined, an exhibit sponsored by the British Council. For the most part, I’m glad I did, although I must admit I skipped over a few whose writing or narration style grated after a couple of minutes. As you tour about Salt Galata, you don your headphones and tune into a numbered channel, one for Istanbul, Tokyo, Baku, the Metaverse—you get the idea—and listen to a passage written about each of these places. I’d recommend it if you have some time.

    However, when I wasn’t absorbed in these orally rendered landscapes I found myself wondering about the physical space I was in. Ever feel that you really want to like a place but instead leave uncertain what to think? That’s how I feel about Salt Galata. When I first heard about the project, I was truly excited by the notion of such a space, but after several visits I’m still left a little cold. There’s something disjointed about it — there are many likable aspects, yet somehow they don’t seem to tie together. It’s to Garanti Bank’s credit that they financed this renovation of the old Ottoman Bank Building and turned it into a public space for research. It’s tastefully done, and I’m especially grateful that they didn’t over-brand it.

    At the end of my audio tour I decided to refresh myself at CA’D’ORO, the restaurant space. This is where the experience really falls apart for me. Cultural institutions need to make money, and a good way to do that is to offer a worthwhile dining/drinking experience to bring in revenue. The view is good, the tablecloths pressed, but there’s something about the attitude here, the pretense, that just doesn’t work. It was the middle of the day, but even so, there was a vibrancy lacking.

    Overall I think that’s the difficulty with Salt Galata. It’s a bit hard-edged. Whether you’re using the archives, or going to the cafe, my impression is there’s something not entirely welcoming about this space. Still, I really want to like it. What do you think?

  • The Book Bazaar: Sahaflar Çarşısı

    June 1st, 2012

    On rainy days there’s nothing better than taking refuge in a book. Yesterday I escaped a flash downpour in the Old City  under the awnings at the Sahaflar Çarşısı, a book bazaar located right next to the Covered Bazaar’s Beayzıt door.  While the slate sky above lit up and roiled with thunder, I discovered that there’s everything here from university textbooks to religious scripture, out of date travel guides, pulpy pocketbooks, massive coffee table tomes—and even a book claiming it had the inside scoop on the steamy life of Ottoman harems. Most of the stores don’t have a great selection for English readers but there are a few with a decent stock, including Gözen Kitap ve Yayın Evi, which has some splendid art books. As usual if you have cash, you can talk down the price of discovering all those sordid Ottoman Harem secrets. Definitely worth a peruse — the book bazaar, I mean.

    Read More…

  • Reading List: That Magazine #6

    June 1st, 2012

    I’m pleased to announce that another issue of THAT MAGAZINE is hot off the press. Okay, perhaps I’m more than pleased, perhaps I’m a little self-satisfied because my Marmaray photography also landed the cover, and it’s always a nice ego boost to see your work in print. In addition to that there are essays, more of Zeynep Aksoy’s compelling India Emails, some fantastic art spreads and writing from the late Refik Halid Karay (1888-1965) eloquently translated from Turkish by Alexander Dawe. So if you’re here in Istanbul, keep your eyes open. THAT will be appearing again in your favorite swanky little watering holes and eateries.

     

  • Reading List: China Míeville

    May 11th, 2012

    Genre fiction is sometimes regarded as beneath other forms of literary enterprise, but I think that’s unfortunate. To dismiss certain authors because they write stories that are not firmly planted in the “real” world is to miss out on staggering feats of imagination and mind-expanding ideas. And isn’t that one of the roles of fiction? There are superb writers creating fantastic stories who should not be ignored simply because they veer off the path of the ordinary into the extraordinary.

    However, I must admit that until recently I had gone off fantastic stories unless they were somehow anchored in the world we recognize. I needed the sense of place, the grounding in places with which I had a passing familiarity—and thought the realm of high fantasy, the realm of authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert had become a little lackluster. Then I discovered China Míeville’s The City & The City on a bookshelf in Beirut. Though set in our present day it created a fictional Balkan city that overlapped with another city in space-time. Its description of two overlapping cities, the residents of each deliberately trying to ignore the other, immediately made me think of Istanbul. The book was compelling enough that I decided I would venture into Perdido Street Station next, the author’s second novel, set in a wholly fictional steam punk universe. I don’t know if this book is a masterpiece or not—I’m not fond of such back page pronouncements—but I can tell you I will read the book again. It unfurls a little languidly at the beginning, making a worthwhile investment in setup, and then becomes one of the most exciting, vivid novels I’ve read in years.

    I haven’t yet read all of Mr. Míeville’s works, but I can tell you that he’s an extremely gifted author. His descriptions of cities, real or imagined, are beautifully rendered, full of the grit, grime, scents and smells that bring a place to life on the page. This is an author who understands what cities mean. I recently finished King Rat, his debut novel, which weaves the musical genre of drum n’ bass with the legend of the Pied Piper set in contemporary London. I was completely hooked.

    There’s nothing tender or sweet about Míeville’s books. If you’re looking for “likable” characters or soft focus whimsy don’t venture into his worlds. However, if you like staggering feats of imagination, interesting scenarios and writing that’s so vivid you get a taste—sometimes the metallic one of blood—in your mouth, drop by a bookstore and pick up one of Mr. Míeville’s works.

  • Where to escape?

    April 25th, 2012

    It’s been an exciting couple of weeks, what with shooting the Easter rites of Turkey’s Greek community and jumping on and off Ciner Shipping’s freighter, the Trabzon, so lately my batteries have needed some recharging.

    Fortunately my sister Maia provided me with two truly great reads. The first was Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table which recounts the experiences of an 11-year old boy on The Oronsay, a ship bound for England from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). As usual Mr. Ondaatje does a tremendous job of linking the past to the present, slowly unfurling the story of a how the three-week journey and the strange events aboard resounded throughout the lives of the passengers, jumping forward and backward through time. I savored this one.

    The second is The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt. I haven’t had the self-control to savor this one. I’ve been reading it in gulps. This book tells the wayward journey of two titular brothers and assassins on their way from Oregon City to gold rush Sacramento to complete their latest assignment. Every sentence crackles with black humor. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Joel and Ethan Coen have optioned this book. It’s so good, so well crafted that I can’t really concentrate on anything else right now, except finding the next cup of coffee, or glass of black tea. I’ll be back soon … I think. It’s nice to be reminded that despite the fun of the internet, the lure of a good film, that there’s nothing quite like the world of fiction to lose yourself in for an hour or two.

    What are your favorite ways to recharge? How do you escape? Let me know. I’m listening.

    Posted in Books & Lit | | 2 Comments