Al Jazeera : Turkish writer Peren Bersigli Mut: Arabic literature is deeply rooted, and this is the secret of my interest in Syrian writers

The Justice Organization (Syrian American) awarded the day before yesterday, Monday, Honorary “Nizar Qabbani Medal” award to a Turkish author for the first time.
The organization considered that the Turkish writer Bern Bercigli Mutt deservedly deserved the award for her contribution to the promotion of Syrian culture and literature. And its just view of the cause of the Syrian people.The founder of the organization, Dr. Haytham Albizem, explained – in his speech during the award ceremony held at the Cultural Center of Taksim Mosque in Istanbul – that humanitarian aid is everyone’s responsibility and duty.

He added that the organization is honoring Bersigli Mutt today with the “Nizar Qabbani Medal” for its project in transferring Syrian creative and intellectual production into Turkish and other languages.
He pointed out that the award is not only in the name of Ms. Mott, It is also for Turkey. Pointing out that the award is of great importance to the organization; It is a symbol of support and care for the Syrian people.
in turn, Maysa Qabbani, vice president of the organization, said that the Assad regime distorted the civilized and cultural history of Syria for many years, He tried to sow hatred among the Syrian people.
She indicated that they decided to award the prize in the cultural center of Taksim Mosque, Because mosques in Syrian culture are not places of violence and hatred, Rather, they are places where people gather to promote the spirit of love and brotherhood.
Qabbani praised Turkey’s role in hosting the Syrians. She thanked her people for their support in every sense of the word for her Syrian brothers.
for its part, The Turkish writer – who gave the award to the children of Syria – explained that she met the poems of the poet Nizar Qabbani during her high school years, Noting that she did not like him only for his hair, But also for his honorable positions against injustice and oppression.
She added that she learned about the suffering of the Syrian people through Qabbani’s poems. And that this is what suits a poet to be a voice for his people. She stated that her goal was to help the Turkish people get to know the honorable people like Nizar Qabbani, whose only weapon was the pen.

Literature and translation
Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, Bersigli Mutt said that Turkish and Arabic literature are linked by an ancient and intertwined relationship, Interaction began to flourish through religion with the conversion of the Turks to Islam. The theme “Love of the Prophet” was a common theme between Arabic and Turkish literary poems.
She added, “Ottoman poets were writing Arabic poetry, Like Sheikh al-Islam Abu al-Saud Effendi (died 982 AH / 1574 AD), who wrote Arabic poetry, And she added, “The Turks embraced Arab literary stories such as Layla and Majnun. They have been known in remote Anatolia regions for hundreds of years.”
And she continued, “It is difficult to separate the Arabic and Turkish literature from each other. And also from the Arab poets, such as Jamil Sidqi Al-Zahawi (1863-1936) and Maarif Al-Rasafi (1875-1945), Who mention the Turks in their poems… We, Turks and Arabs, We’ve always loved to talk about each other.”
When asked about the translation movement between the two literatures, She said, “There are important activities in the field of translation currently, But of course it is not enough. I personally think that sometimes very wrong choices are made. Sometimes the wrong choices are made on purpose. for ideological reasons, And sometimes unfortunately because of ignorance and lack of knowledge.”

“Translations from Turkish literature to Arabic literature revolve around only a few names. However, We have much better writers and poets who need translation into Arabic. We both need a lot to know each other’s true authors. Likewise, There are bad choices in works translated from Arabic literature into Turkish… Unfortunately, some Arab authors write literature of low quality whose works have been translated into our language… While important Arab literary works are left untranslated.

Syrian literature in Turkish

On her interest in modern Syrian literature, “Honestly, I didn’t have much knowledge of it in the past,” Bersigli Mutt said. “My field was Palestinian literature. In 2016, We produced a 5-part documentary film on Palestinian literature, Then I continued to work. I have written two books on Palestinian literature. Under the title: The Palestinians from the Great Revolution that preceded the Nakba 1936-1939 and the post-Nakba period. I edited the books of some of the great Palestinian authors such as Ghassan Kanafani and Fadwa Toukan.
During these studies, she continued, My way has always been to Syria. As you know, There are many important Syrian writers and intellectuals who played a major role in the Palestinian resistance. After 2011, There was something that caught my attention and bothered me a lot. If we can talk comfortably about Palestinian literature, but unfortunately, When it comes to Syria, We faced great hypocrisy.”
She added, “People were strangely more suspicious of Syrian writers. But there is no difference between Palestine and Syria. I cannot think of greater hypocrisy than supporting the Palestinian resistance and its writers and ignoring the Syrian resistance.”
She emphasized that Arabic literature has an incredibly rich and deeply rooted tradition, “and Syrian literature has always been one of the most important sources that nourish Arabic literature. So why are there those who exclude them because they have now raised their voices against injustice?” We know the reasons. But it’s still really unreasonable.”
She continued, “For many reasons such as these, I became interested in Syrian literature. First, I started writing articles on Syrian literature for some literary magazines and newspapers in Turkey. One of the first articles I wrote was about the great poet Nuri Al-Jarrah from Damascus, Because his poems had a profound effect on me.. and later, We started translating and publishing the works of some important Syrian poets and writers in magazines.”
In the meantime, she said, I was interviewing Syrian writers, We started with small things but our dreams were big. We were so excited As if we were digging the earth with our hands and finding a new gem as we dig. In the meantime, I had many friends of magazine editors who supported me. Seeing the interest in Syrian literature in Turkey gave us endless happiness.”
She added, “Therefore, We decided to move forward with our work a bit and set up a publishing house (Farabi-Kitab). We already have publishing experience, And we had a good team. for this reason.

Translating Arabic literature into Turkish

“We set important criteria for the publishing house,” Bersigli Mutt said. “We were adamant that we first provide the most prominent examples in Syrian and Arabic literature. Because presenting bad literature is a great injustice to good writers. For this reason, We have a selection committee made up of our distinguished fellow writers in the Arab world on this topic. We are trying to show a high level of interest in the authors that we will introduce to the Turkish people.”The second criterion – according to the writer – is that literature should not be nourished by evil, but by good. Not out of cruelty, but out of justice. No writer can ignore the suffering of mankind. turn a blind eye to injustice, He slanders the just resistance of societies, Or speaking on behalf of tyrants in the Arab world or anywhere else. It is not possible to include works by such writers in our publications.
The author added, “In my opinion, A publishing house should not only look for good texts, Rather, they should also seek righteous writers. I would say that, Because the letter I wrote to the poet Adonis recently was exposed to many questions, Like, can it touch our hearts that today Adonis wrote the most beautiful poem in the world.”
“Let me give you a counter example,” she said. I am still under the influence of the very sad news we received a few hours ago. Unfortunately, The great Damascene writer, my teacher, Khairy Al-Dhahabi, has passed away.. The translation of two of his books was in progress at our publishing house.
And she continued, “I am in indescribable grief, Because my golden charity meant dignity to me. He was the right person for me. was not only a novelist, It was much more than that in my eyes. He was a man who stood up to tyrants, He did not give up his dignity. Even though he paid a lot of price all his life.”

Most of all, she continues, It saddens me that he passed away before we could publish his work. Although the Turkish translation of his book was to be completed very soon. I’m so sad that not only did we lose a huge talent, Rather, we also lost a bright heart and an honorable attitude.. One of my greatest wishes from God is to be able to translate all his books into Turkish and to engrave the name of this honorable man in the minds of the Turkish people.. I want our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to know that a wonderful writer and person called Khairy Al-Dhahabi has pass through this world.”

Nizar Qabbani

When asked about her influence on the late Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, The Turkish writer said he was the first Syrian poet she knew, “I remember writing Nizar Qabbani’s verses on the margins of my notebooks when I was still in high school. My childhood admiration for him grew even deeper with the passing of the years. The more I got to know life and people, I loved Nizar Qabbani more. We all know what a great poet he is.”She added, “He was proficient in Arabic language and words. But his ingenuity is not limited to that only. Nizar Qabbani was a man who did not lose his childhood innocence, no matter his age. This is clearly visible even in his pictures or facial expressions when he speaks.”She concluded, “What is childish innocence? in my opinion, Childish innocence means raising your voice against injustice and oppression without accountability. Nizar Qabbani was such a man. Throughout his life he did not give up his dignity, And he was not afraid to raise his voice if there was injustice somewhere. He is generally known for his popular poems. But Nizar Qabbani was a great resistance poet. And I needed to love him.””We need to find poets and writers like Nizar Qabbani to love ourselves. Let’s love them so that we don’t lose hope in life,” she said. There are great poets and writers in this world who suffer for us, Think about us. They are our heroes.”


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