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The Behavior of Words - Efe Duyan - Translated by Aron Aji
$17.00 - 978-1-945680-63-2
Behaviour of Words _  978-1-945680-62-5.jpg

Efe Duyan translates the silent intention behind our instinctive, urgent need of human expression and connection. Duyan's poetry is based on finding unique linguistic forms that fit the respective content of the poem. Through a visible structure, he combines complex metaphors in a rhythmic way, to integrate the daily language by decontextualizing it, and to construct a network of meaning in the background. He is influenced by the art movements of Futurism, Surrealism, conceptual art, and medieval Middle Eastern poetry as well as the modern conception of functionality in architecture.

Some poems, built like houses with architectural intention, draw us in through their overall design, clean fine lines breaking at striking angles, guiding our eyes through carefully defined spaces opening to hallways that irresistibly lead us to unexpected enclosures where natural light plays among the walls breathe life into the lives for which they are intended.  Where form and function are inseparable, the space is not merely for dwelling. It asks to be experienced. Physically, materially. 


“In The Behavior of Words, Aron Aji does not so much translate Efe Duyan into English as he translates English into Efe Duyan: luminous bursts of lyric art in the tender sensorium of intimate love, fusing Turkish structure and English sound. One language enters the other seemingly without loss, attentive to such matters as elephant burials and the tiring of geese in flight, the falcon/who glides a while longer/after its heart has stopped. These are poems that hold our breaths, that ask us to drink water from each other’s mouths. An attention emanates from them, precise and vigilant and new, as in the poem wherein Upturning the turtle, little girl runs away/For the first time, turtle sees sky. Such poetry as this is an event, and we are fortunate to be in attendance.”
  —Carolyn Forché, author of In the Lateness of the World

“Leave it to an architect to recognize the central truth of poetry—that it is in the very nature of language to misbehave, in service to the discovery of truths that only gifted poets may divine. Efe Duyan is such a poet, as well as a scholar, novelist, translator, and architect, and in The Behavior of Words, expertly translated from the Turkish by Aron Aji, we find the poems—the blueprints—of a world lost to time, which he has patiently reconstructed for our pleasure and delight. “I had noticed when we held hands/ at a certain angle,” he writes, “our hands/ perfectly fit together”—and that is “the angle of freedom/ like that perfect angle/ caught by an upwind sail.” No telling where this voyage may take you.”

  —Christopher Merrill, author of Boat and Necessities

“To read Efe Duyan’s poetry is to enter a world that is at one and the same time familiar and unfamiliar. Duyan deconstructs words so that we may, as readers, see the world freshly. What other poet sees words as hedgehogs copulating in the air, or feeding off carnation petals tossed into the air during a political demonstration? Emily Dickinson saw hope as “the thing with feathers.” Duyan sees it as “a rough-cut key” and “a salad, wrapped in aluminum foil, never touched / and still fresh.” Aron Aji’s precise translations bring us the work of a poet capable of interpreting the world from a sophisticated philosophical point of view but who is most himself speaking the language of eros.”

—Richard Tillinghast, author, with Julia Clare Tillinghast, of Dirty August, translations from the Turkish of Edip Cansever

Efe Duyan (poet, architect, event curator) was born in Istanbul in 1981. As an internationally recognized poet, he has been invited to numerous international events, including the Hurst Professorship at St. Louis University and IWP at Iowa University. His poems have been translated to over twenty five different languages. His poetry collections are Sıkça Sorulan Sorular (Frequently Asked Questions, 2016), Tek Şiirlik Aşklar (One Poem Stands, 2012) and Takas (Swap, 2006) and his debut novel is expected to be published next year.

As an advocate of freedom of expression and creative thinking, he has been an active cultural actor curating international events, workshops and conferences. He has co-created the Offline Istanbul Poetry Festival, Turkish American Poetry Days and Mosaics: Gaziantep International Poetry Festival. He is currently teaching architecture at RISEBA University, Riga. He has affiliated with several universities for research or guest lectures, such as Berlin Technical University, Ca' Foscari University, Minnesota University, Istanbul Technical University, Atalanta University, Iowa University, George Washington University, and Boston Massachusetts University.


Aron Aji is the Director of MFA in Literary Translation. A native of Turkey, he has translated works by Bilge Karasu, Murathan Mungan, Elif Shafak, LatifeTekin, and other Turkish writers, including three book-length works by Karasu: Death in TroyThe Garden of Departed Cats (2004 National Translation Award); and A Long Day’s Evening (NEA Literature Fellowship, and short-listed for the 2013 PEN Translation Prize). He also edited, Milan Kundera and the Art of Fiction. Aji leads the Translation Workshop, and teaches courses on retranslation, poetry and translation; theory, and contemporary Turkish literature. He also the past president of The American Literary Translators Association.

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