Why There is No Turkish Anais Nin? Erotic Poetry and Freedom in the New Issue of Kurşun Kalem Dergisi

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The question of the freedom of expression in Turkey is constantly an urgent and complex one. Here I am referring not only to the criticism towards parties, politicians, or military institutions and choices. The expression of feelings, sexual desires, sexual orientations is also to be included in the wider political frame. The editors of the literary journal Kurşun Kalem Dergisi tried to address the issue of how the erotic writing is it possible nowadays in Turkey. By interviewing poets and writers (among them, Arzu Demir, Handan Gökçek, Mine Söğüt, Hilal Karahan), they tried to answer the question of how much a female writer is allowed to “talk in the language of the body”, or rather “let the body write itself”.

In her intervention, poet Gonca Özmen stresses that the whole patriarchal system also has a strong reflection on the language. The macho culture reproduces itself in proverbs, idiomatic expressions and the like. Thus, the expression of love and eros for a female writer becomes “a barrier against taboos and the pressure of a male-dominated world”. In Turkey, although there is to a certain extent the possibility of expressing love and sexuality, the notion of shame and honor or the fear of a social condemnation often leads to the writers’ auto-censorship. Özmen poignantly writes that “The body of a woman is still put in brackets”, and that some Turkish female poets are carrying on their own fight against the constraints of a patriarchal language, even by creating their own vocabulary of feelings and senses.

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