ԱՉՔ – EYE, An Extraordinary Book of Armenian Poetry

 Oshin Elagoz, Istanbul, 18 April 2016

Istanbul-based Armenian journalist and writer Vercihan Ziflioglu has a new book out titled "Աչք" ("Eye" in Armenian). Her immediately previous book was about Islamized Armenians of Anatolia. Ziflioglu's new book is a collection of poems in Armenian. It's a one-of-a-kind anthology mainly because it's poetry as Cubism. The book reminded me of Picasso’s paintings.

The poems are also unconventional because Ziflioglu has embedded in her words all her emotions and the state of her soul as she was writing. Thus rather just peruse the poems, the reader will see, wear, follow and think her words. Sometimes atop the poems there are pictures or mathematical symbols which will force the reader to turn the book upside down so as to parse their meaning, just like resolving a puzzle.

 Oshin Elagoz, Istanbul, 18 April 2016

Istanbul-based Armenian journalist and writer Vercihan Ziflioglu has a new book out titled "Աչք" ("Eye" in Armenian). Her immediately previous book was about Islamized Armenians of Anatolia. Ziflioglu's new book is a collection of poems in Armenian. It's a one-of-a-kind anthology mainly because it's poetry as Cubism. The book reminded me of Picasso’s paintings.

The poems are also unconventional because Ziflioglu has embedded in her words all her emotions and the state of her soul as she was writing. Thus rather just peruse the poems, the reader will see, wear, follow and think her words. Sometimes atop the poems there are pictures or mathematical symbols which will force the reader to turn the book upside down so as to parse their meaning, just like resolving a puzzle.

When I asked Zifloglu why she preferred to write in a non-conventional method and what was the message she wanted to communicate, she said she didn’t deliberately choose any particular method. She simply sits down in front of a blank page and the rest comes by itself, she said. In other words the reader will be able to share the poet's mood as she was writing.

“My only regret is that the book has been ignored because it is in Armenian,” says Ziflioglu. That’s why she considers the book a phoenix that is reborn from its ashes, thanks to Ragıp Zarakolu who published it at his Belge Publishing.

In the preface Ziflioglu has a message to future generations of Armenians. “Speaking Western Armenian, my venerated mother tongue, is like prayer. It is on UNESCO's list of endangered languages. My fight is to help make it survive for future generations,” she says.

Ziflioglu expressed her gratitude to the "Marmara" newspaper of Istanbul and specially to Rober and Ari Haddeciyan, and to Hatice Yılmaz for their support while she was preparing the book. The paintings, which accompany some of the poems, are by Ziflioglu.

While we wait for the reaction of literary experts, we must be open to experimentation. I am certain the new generation, which is always drawn to innovation, will find these outstanding poems attractive. Ziflioglu hopes  the poems might even encourage the new generation to return to reading in its mother tongue.

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