Efe Duyan in translation: The Forgettable Death of Engin Çeber

The Forgettable Death of Engin Çeber

A man is dead

I do not know him,

He is just another face in the morning paper

I stared at him for a second

And we shared a moment

One mask to another

His name a misprint

I realise later. When

Did life become a foreign word?

A man is dead

I didn’t even think about him

Let this be my crime

My share of the common ball of sins.

Let it lie,

A man is dead

Wind the violence like a clock

That ceremonial nothingness, the syrup of consolation

That cloud of forgetting,

Let the lie puppet my life

Let my heart pump this lie.

Let it flow in my veins

A man is dead

Let me hide the stench of death with autumn air

Let me walk in a country of lies

And let me include you in my blame.

We never knew who Engin Çeber was

He was born, he grew up and the details

of his death are reported in my morning paper:

He was beaten up, by the police on the street;

At the police station in İstinye;

In a cell at the Metris prison,

just before he lost consciousness in a hospital.

And I am sure he was not afraid of death,

but rather of the not being understood

This alone closed the sleepless nights of revolution on his eyes

And his adventure in history

Was left incomplete.

This loneliness is not his, but ours

His heart’s desire is not his, but our

If I could just hear the last beat of his heart

Touch the last object he looked at, know his last words

Or when he last laughed – if I could know these things.

Your friends say that you liked to laugh, that you never took

Your hat off but in your prison photo your head is bare.

I wonder about you. I want to know you. For instance,

what did you think of last? Were you thinking of your past lovers?

Your friends tell me you were cheerful

I didn’t know you but your picture makes me wonder -

Did you really love life so much?

You left us and became a single face in the morning

paper. You left us in the gap between sorrow and curses.

A man is dead

I did not know him,

I stared at him for a second

And we shared the same moment.

In a moment I will take a hat from my wardrobe

and I will wonder – ‘Is it something you would wear?’

Trans. by Raman Mundair


'I like to use the languages of the various arts – literature, music, theatre...I think that is the spirit of the modern global era.'- poet Ivan Hristov spoke to SJ Fowler of 3AM magazine about the evolution of the contemporary Bulgarian poetry scene.


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At the Sofia Poetics festival, which was organised by Word Express participant Ivan Hristov, Scottish based poet Ryan Van Winkle caught up with fellow festival guests SJ Fowler and Tomasz Rózycki. To hear Fowler and Rózycki discussing their work and reading some of their poetry, listen to the Scottish Poetry Library podcast here.