If I were to have to talk personally of what drives my own writing I would quite naturally have to step outside the framework of national literature. In fact, all of the world’s writers are actually stateless. Like many of them, I too have a feeling of separation that cannot be alleviated, a deep feeling of exile and disquietude within stemming from feeling cut off from nature. I too feel the discord of not being able to conform to hierarchical time and the resulting sensation of innate fragmentation that comes from this. On the other hand, when, as a being endowed with memory, I try to create for myself an intellectual framework I find myself experiencing a narcissistically comforting feeling that comes from being an inhabitant of a geography that has deep historical roots spread from the Mediterranean basin to Mesopotamia and from the Middle East to Anatolia. In other words, thanks to something primeval I am able to confront the feeling of statelessness. This intellectual geography is, for me, made up of all the celestial religions, the Greek gods, the myths of Sumeria, the Persian poets and Arab philosophers, Jewish cabalists, Armenian legends, Kurdish dengbejs, Hellenic architecture, the horticultural skill of the early farmers of Rum who domesticated the vine, the traditional Shamanistic practices of the Turkmen tribes, Gypsy songs and the crafts and narratives of numerous peoples. But then the minute that I leave Turkey I am labelled absolutely and exclusively as a female writer who is Turkish and Muslim and I am only accepted by some literary circles if I bear these tags. The emphasis is always on these aspects.
27 February 2013
From address given by Sema Kaygusuz, translated by Caroline Stockford: