Monday, 22 October 2012


A short (personal) report about my trip to Turkey.

The Municipality of Ordu – a nice city on the Black Sea – did invite a number of foreign guests to this event taking place from 10 to 14 October 2012.

Through Tarik Günersel, President of the Turkish PEN, Gil-Won Lee, President of PEN Korea and myself as President of PEN Trieste – also in our quality of members of the Board of PEN International - were among these guests, along with the Mayors of Drama (GR) and Plovdvid Severen (BG), Nancy Tryposkoufi and Eleftheria Binikou of the International Writers and Translators Centre of Rhodes (GR), the writer Thnasis Skroubelos and the publisher Şebnem Hristakopoulos from Greece, the poet Carolina Ilica and the publisher Dumitru M. Ion from Romania, the writer and poet Bojana Apostolova and the poet Naci Ferhadov from Bulgaria.

For me it was my first time in Turkey and - even if I still have to visit Istanbul sometimes - I doubt I could have chose a better occasion to meet Turkish writers and poets and at the same time having an experience of the Turkish way of life. My personal limit in this has been my complete ignorance of the Turkish language.
Any experience is too short – and a five days one certainly is – to say that you really understood something of a country, of its habitants and of its culture, but I feel richer after this one.

The theme of the Festival was “Cultural ties among cities” – a piece of cake for someone born in Trieste like me :o)

We were welcomed by the Mayor of Ordu, Mr. Seyit Torun, the Governor of the Province of Ordu Mr. Orhan Düzgün and the Festival’s Director General Mr. Şinasi Tepe.

The event was articulated on different interesting venues, mainly Cultural Centres and Theatres, with panels (Cultural interaction among cities, The world of short stories and novels, Poetry in our contemporary times, History of Ordu, Novel heroes inside our lives), presentations and readings.

There were also visits to schools of all grades – with an impressive, attentive participation of students of different ages – including musical exhibitions, a theatre performance, many visits and conversations in the newly refreshed Ordu Centre for World Writers.

The local TV interviewed Tarik, Gil-Won, Nancy, Eleftheria and myself together.

We were treated to many good restaurants, so we could appreciate Turkish food and hospitality.
All in all, the impression I had is that of a complex cultural environment, which expresses itself through the words of the Turkish writers and poets, the Administration having a proactive attention to culture. Freedom of expression is considered in this milieu a value, even if in the country there are the known difficulties.

A couple of very personal notes.

I was really (happily) astonished by the Mayor leading a procession of participants through the city centre, with the City Band and a banner of the Festival ahead of him, while all of us were distributing red carnations to the people around us :o). I’m still wondering if some of our Mayors would show this degree of involvement (frankly speaking, I doubt it).

The second funny experience I had at the end of a visit to a secondary school, when I was (joyfully) assaulted by a bunch of girls and boys asking me for my signature... on the palm of their hands :o)
At the end of this report, I would like to express my thanks to all the organizers of this interesting event, which was quite complicated to manage, and for their kind attention to our well-being.

A special thank you I owe to Mesut Senol with whom I had the first contact (and the last one, because he woke up at I prefer not to know which hour in the morning to make sure we were on a VERY early car to the airport and wish us a good trip home...)

A very hearty hug to all the volunteers – female and male - who took good care of us throughout the Festival, and thanks also to the translators, who had (as always) a hard job to do (not always recognized).

It’s good to know that after only five days you can think of having so many friends in Turkey.

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