PEN International | Turkey: a message from Nedim Türfent

Dear PEN members,

After the solidarity campaign you have started by kneading as if it were bread dough, I have been receiving postcards; letters and books from all over the US, Australia and Europe, which all make me extremely proud. As you might appreciate, I cannot respond individually to all of you because of my circumstances not allowing such an endeavor. Please do not consider this a form of Oblomovism. I want you to know that your letters, which have rendered iron curtains meaningless and ineffective, have filled my two-steps’-long cell with resistance, resolve and hope. At this time when I am still able to have access to this pencil and paper, I am amateurishly sharing my feelings of gratitude and humbleness, and I would be most delighted if you accept it.

We have yet once again witnessed an attempt to “stop” those who try to put a stain on the literary and poetic attraction of aesthetics, of life. Thanks to you, we have been able to etch on every page of every calendar that shadows have the lifespan of a tiny spark; that those who want to muddy the clear waters of literature have a lifespan that can be ended with the flick of a finger. Knowing that you are right there, akin to keeping company to caged birds, is beyond any dream inside this cell which at times feels stifling. But it is real, it is sincere, and from the heart..

Prisons, tragically, have always been unavoidable for the laborers of words and letters in our country. It is as if a wound has remained fresh for a century, and has not been allowed to form a scab and heal. Regardless of [those in government] coming to power through military coups or slightly democratic channels, it is impossible to find [rulers] that grant the chance and opportunity to breath for bearers of imagination and thoughts. It is such that, one of our poets once described these prisons as “facilities of compulsory accommodation”. Another master poet of ours who was stifled in the claws of oppression and impositions all his life is Ahmet Arif of Diyarbakır. The legendary poet, whose body the police thew into a garbage container thinking he “died” after severe torture, has left his seal on the world of literature with his single yet unequaled book of poems.

With a few words by our master poet who is now resting in light, I would like to share my affection and respect with all of you, and wish all of you the best.

“Wherever you may be,

Indoors, outside, in class or in a line

Confront them.

Spit on the face of the executioner,

The opportunist, the evil doer, the malicious

Endure with books.

Endure with work.

With your nails, your teeth.

With hope, with love, with dreams

Endure, don’t bring shame upon me.”

Ahmet Arif

Translation by Barış Altıntaş, Media and Law Studies Association (MSLA)


Nedim Türfent - Letter to PEN members

Dear friends,

Many thanks to everyone who has been taking action on behalf of imprisoned news reporter, poet and poet Nedim Türfent.

Türfent is serving an eight-year-and-nine month prison sentence in Turkey on trumped-up terrorism charges (for more information please click here).

In a moving letter written on 10 March, which his lawyers kindly translated into English, Türfent thanks PEN members for sending him postcards, letters and books, which he says have filled his cell ‘with resistance, resolve and hope’ (see attached).

Türfent featured in this year’s Word Poetry Day, which saw scores of PEN Centres translating his poetry. We wish to extend our thanks to everyone who participated in this action. We are in the process of collating the poems into a digital anthology. Should you wish to take part, please contact Aurélia Dondo, Europe Programme Coordinator at: and Mike Halmshaw, Digital Manager at: by 1 May.

Many thanks for your continuous support.

Best wishes,

Aurélia Dondo

Europe Programme Coordinator | PEN International

t. +44 (0)20 7405 0338 |Twitter: @pen_int | Facebook:

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