Interview: English/Music and Poetry – A Deep Connection


Interview of lyricist and Poet, Osman Öztürk

 

Vatsala  Radhakeesoon : Osman Öztürk, welcome to Poetry and Creativity blog! Please tell us about your background, earlier life and actual life?

Osman Öztürk:  For many years, I held high level positions in various provinces in Turkey. I also served at diplomatic missions in Paris, France and Washington D.C.,
United States. I produced many projects and worked in Turkey on the subject of safe life. I fought against violence towards women, drug addiction, and traffic accidents. And I conducted many projects related to those issues. I conducted several works as far as school safety and safe school concepts are concerned. I organized national and international conferences and wrote books on these subjects. Upon my graduation from the Police Academy, I earned my Master’s Degree at Gazi University in the field study for Traffic Accidents. Following my retirement from government service, I set up a security company and started providing service in the field of private security in Turkey. Currently I am the CEO of this company. By being the Security Academy President and Security General Coordinator of Bahçeşehir University, I forged an academic concept for the private security sector. I initiated a CSG safe school project – the first one in Turkey as a safe school project. I have been striving for creating schools where students could feel happy and safe physically, psychologically and socially in those safe school environments. From 2000, I started writing poetry. By now I authored 16 books in different fields including 5 poetry collections. My poems have been composed and included in music repertoires. By now, 30 of my lyrics have been composed. As a person whose life has been spent in life struggle mostly away from home, longing and separation have made up the main themes of my poetry. I wish and hope that in our world, which is as small as a speckle at some point of the universe, the whole humankind should have a friendly, peaceful and happy life.


V.
R: What/who has been your initial source of inspiration for writing lyrics and poetry respectively?

O.O: Poetry is nothing but life itself. Poetry is something as if it is a miracle of the magnificent reflections on the feelings created by the mystery inside life. It is one of the most important dimensions of human communication as part of a literary product which is distilled through life experiences coming from feelings, thoughts, dreams, longing and it is sometimes the poets’ duties to give different meaning to the words, to attribute varied interpretations for their meanings, and their images and symbols by making use of rhetoric, rhythm, harmony etc., thus invoking aesthetically feelings in readers. For me, poetry is the sum of words with which I define the unique storm my experiences create on my feelings. One day I had witnessed the cries and tears of a mother who lost her child. Another day I was at a train station to observe a sorrowful separation scene which tore my heart out. On another day though, I was watching the lovers with their eyes sparkling in love as well as singing and reciting songs and poems in a close embrace by the Seine River in Paris. In fact, my poetry journey had started with a line I wrote on a handkerchief for two lovers during a dinner. Everybody liked my lines and they even drew a number to get that handkerchief. The poems I had written on handkerchiefs in time reached such a number that they were not leaving any empty space on my desk. Then over time, the poems I wrote on the paper turned into 5 poetry collections. My poems have been published in many blogs and literature sites. And still they continue to be published abroad.

 

V.R : How does the culture of your country impact on your creative works? Please tell us about the uniqueness or any peculiar quality of Turkish music and poetry?

O.O :  Turks live in a wonderful country surrounded on three sides with deep blue seas. It is such a country, a meeting point for two continents by the banks of the Istanbul’s Bosporus. As much as we are inheritors of the cultural riches of an empire’s history, we feel stronger about ourselves with the republic’s values to which the founder of our country, Great Leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk added modern and universal assets. My beloved country Turkey maintains the cultural richness and diversity of the three empires on its land. It is the meeting and melting point of different cultures. It has got the vast power of the Asian culture and the knowledge gleams of the European civilization. So many wars have been waged on this land, and people who lived here have been scattered to the four winds in pain and tears. The catastrophes and separation have sown suffering and sorrow in this land. For centuries, people who had endured pains in every corner of those regions have left their lands. With time every pain, every drop of tears have turned into separation and longing. In these days and in the last century, feelings from the Balkans to the Caucasus have mixed with the feelings of different cultures to create its magnificent richness. I have also been affected by the ancient culture and traditions of my country. Being nurtured by life’s harshness on my people, their longings, separation, being away from their homes, migration as well as the pain and sorrow I had while I was going through some events made me write my poems.

 

V.R : How does the creative process work for you, from the inspiration stage to the final piece of work?

O.O : A muse coming from inside or an event I observe trigger my feelings. At the moment I took my pen, I kind of live through that moment again. I wander freely in the frontiers of another world. The moment I live fades out and a flood of emotions takes me to another unknown. None of my poems is completed immediately. My poems in the making are subjected to the change of my feelings. At last, one day I put an end to it, saying this poem is finished and I start writing a new poem.


V.R: As both lyricist and poet, how would you describe the deep interconnection between lyrics/music and poetry?

O.O: At first, I used to write poems in free verse style. In the recent years, I started writing lyric poems, poems with meter and rhyme. Having poetry combined with music adds another dimension to the lines’ power. This way your poetry accompanied by musical tunes can reach a bigger audience and readers. This way poetry is much loved and its gets immortalized. The link between literature and music stems from the harmony and interplay of words and sounds. They have been nurturing and enriching each other for centuries. In Turkish folk literature, words have always been associated with music. The magnificence of the Anatolian geography and the richness of heart of the Turkish people have found their voice in the accompaniment of the Saz (a Turkish musical instrument) and words.

 

V.R :  During your artistic career what remarkable changes have you observed in Turkish music and poetry?

O.O : Music and poetry always reflect social, cultural, political, economic and social traces of their time. While creating the harmony and richness of its culture, on the other hand Turkish poetry and music have been influenced by the world’s poetry and music movements. In my lifetime, poetry in Turkey has gone through many transformations.

As it is the case with regards to the all values of the society, the approach and taste of music have changed. This social, cultural, political and economic change has altered poetry appreciation of individuals and aesthetical level of society. In this, the transformation of poetry has played a decisive role. Now, different music genres and in particular universal type of music is drawing the youth’s attention. New poets and new musical pieces do not provide the same old taste and richness. New works do not carry the traces of traditional norms and cultural richness. Nowadays, there are enough sophisticated composers. And the number of poems that are suitable to compose is very small.
Composing today’s poetry is almost a tall order. Rhyming, metering, all of those elements making composer’s work easier are non-existent to a great extent. For sure, the foundation of music is sound. Modern poetry remains close to inner voice. It finds its voice in covering generality rather than rhyming. On the other hand, I believe that the contemporary Turkish Art Music Composers keep away from  true poetry, and they spend their time with popular songwriting
Modern Turkish poetry on the other hand, rather than making use of traditional forms of the Turkish music, recently becomes the lyrics for such genres including pop, protest, original, fantasy and rap. The musicians keeping classical tradition alive do compose free verse poems as well as poems written according to modern poetry criteria. But the number of this type of musicians is very small. Turkish music has been hand in hand with poetry for centuries. Unforgettable lines accompanying unforgettable tunes are still on the lips of most of us. But this movement has been interrupted. The number of people who say “Where are those old songs, those old words”… Whether we lack poems suitable to be composed or we don’t have composers competent enough to compose poems? These are the questions now under discussion. |
I have also the same opinion. The power of the music on feelings and its attraction to the mind are stronger compared to other artistic fields. The coupling of music and poetry, words and tunes can give a higher level of pleasure to people. As well as music has its melody, poetry too has its own inner melody. Nietzsche talks about poetry as “a dance in chains”. Though in music melody, motive could create alone a “power field”, by poetry coming into play to embrace those motives, the end products of this merge and the indispensable relationship between poetry and music could be readily seen.
Here we see that without the harmony and coupling of poetry and music, their enchanting power decreases and the pleasure and taste would not amount to a satisfactory level. I headed from free verse poems to metered and rhymed poems. By now I have thirty composed poems. Some of them are included in the TRT’s music repertoire. Some of them have been sung by singers. Out of my poems, Turkish Art Music, Turkish Folk Music and Jazz pieces were composed. From now on, I hold on to my dreams. At the moment I am writing a short story book consisting of my memoirs. I think I can publish it by the end of this year. Moreover, I have my preparations to write a detective novel. My adventure in arts, music and literature shall continue by diversifying and growing. The dreams I have will come true one by one. Every day I get up, I refresh and strengthen my hopes.

 

 V.R: Any message for the world?

O.O: I can see that we can’t live in a fine, peaceful and pleasing world, and this makes me sad. I fantasize a world where everybody enjoys an equal, just and free life in peace, friendship, and welfare. Seeing the majority of the world population being in despair and helplessness because of wars, poverty, misery, lack of education, diseases, and violent events makes me sad and worries me like everybody else. I wish that all types of discrimination are to be eradicated in order for children to be able to look to the future with hope and confidence. Now, I consider it necessary that universal values and law should be created under the umbrella of a world citizenship without any discrimination on the grounds of religion, language, color or gender. We are not alone in this world. We are nothing but just a small point in the vast universe. We are all in the same boat. We all hope to live happily and in well-being with our music, poetry, songs, stories as well as our cultural diversity and richness.

 

V.R : We end up this enriching conversation with some of your lyrics, poems and music links:

 Göremeyince Seni Hasret Düştü İçime

 

Göremeyince seni hasret düştü içime

Arayıp sormadığın günler gitti gücüme

Kapanıp ağlasaydım gücenirdin dizine

Bir veda busesini kondurmadın yüzüme
Kim bilir nerelerde, kim bilir hangi tende

Ömrün geçip gidiyor hasretlerin içinde

Ben seni bekliyorum bıraktığın o yerde

Bir veda busesini kondurmadın yüzüme

 

Döner miyiz seninle o eskimez günlere

İhtiyacım var benim gelip geçmez dünlere

Özlem duyuyorum o hüzünsüz günlere

Unutsak geçmişi ayrılığı unutsak

 

GÜFTE: OSMAN ÖZTÜRK

 

BESTE: NAZİRE SAVRAN

 

 

As I Just Couldn’t See You, I Was Longing to Hear from You

 

 

As I just couldn’t see you, I was longing to hear from you

The days you were just not showing concern, offended me

Had I fallen at your feet and cried, you would blame yourself

You shied away from putting a farewell kiss on my face

 

You never know where it could be and who knows where it lands

The time in your life rolls on amidst so many longings

I am waiting for you in a place you left me behind

You shied away from putting a farewell kiss on my face

 

I wonder whether we could go back to those ageless days

I need yesterdays that are really not temporary

No wonder I long for those days free of melancholy

Why are we not forgetting about the past and parting

 

Lyrics by Osman ÖZTÜRK

Composed by Nazire SAVRAN

(English Translation of the Lyrics by Mesut Şenol)

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOL_8c4hYAo

 

V.R: Thank you Osman Öztürk for joining us on Poetry and Creativity blog!

O.O: You are welcome! I extend my appreciation to you for this interview. I am looking forward to your coming in order for you to see and experience the magnificent history, natural and cultural richness of my beloved country. With a hope to see you one day here in Istanbul, a tourism heaven, a city having Asia and Europe meeting in the water of Bosporus, and a happy life in a taste of poetry and music.

 

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