Bejan Matur was born in eastern Turkey, in a provincial town with a predominantly Alevitic Kurdish population. She finished secondary school in the eastern town of Antep, and went to study law in Ankara, where she graduated and started working as a lawyer. She currently devotes all her time to writing poetry, and occasionally contributes to an internet journal.
In 1997 she published her first volume of poems, ‘Mansions full of breezes’, which at once established her name as an intelligent and original poet. She writes regularly for literary periodicals. Her poetic style differs markedly from that of her contemporaries and from the prevailing traditions and modes of expression of the Turkish literary scene. Her first collection was awarded two important literary prizes. Her second collection, ‘Make sure God does not see my lettters’, was published in 1999.
Matur was raised with the Kurdish language, which was officially banned for many years, and the use of which is still being suppressed, and the Turkish she was taught in school. Like many poets of Kurdish origin, she writes in Turkish, although she says the sounds and rhythms of her native tongue still influence her diction. She says writing in Turkish may even benefit her poetry, because poetry, she feels, requires a ‘dead language’. Living languages create the impression of being able to describe life. But poetry is the translation of an experience from before language and outside language; it creates something which language cannot comprehend. Matur speaks from a loneliness one encounters when thinking in poetic time, outside modern experience; it intones a lament for what is lost, to the rhythm of a lost language. Her imagination has the colours of rural life in the Kurdish regions of southeastern Turkey.
[Bejan Matur took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2002. This text was written in 1999.]