Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nazim Hikmet: Marxist Turkish Poet Set to Music

In 2001 the famous Turkish pianist Fazil Say composed an orchestra piece titled "Nazim." Nazim Hikmet Ran was a Marxist Turkish poet that suffered much for his politics that he infused into his poetry. In 1938 he was arrested for inciting the Turkish military to revolt. Hikmet's sentence was twenty-eight years in prison. Turkish authorities stated that his poetry was inspiring subversion. By 1949 Pablo Picasso, Paul Robeson, and Jean-Paul Sartre, along with others, campaigned for Hikmet's release from prison. In 1950 Hikmet was set free. ( See Poems of Nazim Hikmet trans. Randy Blasing & Mutlu Konuk, New York: Persea Books, 2002, xiv,xv) Before his death Hikmet's life remained dangerous and turbulent while his poetry became more influential.

I have two clips from Say's "Nazim." The first is a powerful rendition of Hikmet's ability to have used art against US Imperialism and a corrupt Turkish state. The second video is from his internationally celebrated Kız Çocuğu (The Little Girl), otherwise known as "Hiroshima Child/Girl." This poem is about a dead girl after the atom-bomb that dropped on Hiroshima in Japan. The musical accompaniments Fazil Say uses make these powerful poems come to life.

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