Nedim Türfent: imprisoned Kurdish reporter & poet
Nedim Türfent is a Kurdish journalist and poet. He was imprisoned in 2016 after publicising police harassment of workers in south-east Turkey. Learn more about Nedim's story and read his poetry.
The libraries of Victoria sustain our culture’s love of reading and fostering knowledge of the wider worlds beyond our own. This too is the philosophy of PEN which celebrates literature and advocates for freedom of expression in all its forms.
World Poetry Day
In 1999, during the UNESCO’s 30th General Conference, World Poetry Day was declared as an opportunity to celebrate cultural and linguistic diversity through poetic expression. While poetry has the power to bring people together across continents, many poets worldwide face threats, intimidation and violence for simply speaking up.
In 2022 we are celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21, by acknowledging PEN Melbourne’s Honorary member, Kurdish journalist and poet, Nedim Türfent.
Nedim Türfent is a Kurdish journalist and poet. He was imprisoned in 2016 after publicising police harassment of workers in south-east Turkey.
Visit PEN Melbourne's website to read Nadim's poetry and learn more about his story and read some of the poetry he has written in his 2000+ days in the Turkish prison system.
Jackie Mansourian, Co-convenor of PEN Melbourne’s Writers-in-Prison program, explains how Nedim Türfent became an Honorary Member of PEN Melbourne:
In January 2020 Nedim Türfent wrote his first card to us. We were moved by his compassion and concern about the bushfires at that time: ‘I’m so sorry about [the] massive forest fires in Australia. Please feel my aching heart. Thank you for your letters. We are at one-heart’.
Later that year, PEN Melbourne members wrote cards to him during our annual card-writing gathering. As I wrote, I reflected on his circumstances. He had been in imprisoned since the age of 26 and the first two years were in solitary confinement. I have children of the same age. I thought of them. The pain of imagining them, like Nedim, being treated with such cruelty and disregard was unbearable. I told him that we knew of his circumstances, and were committed to working for his freedom.
Nedim replied personally to everyone who wrote to him. We were touched and challenged by this response, and made the commitment to invite Nedim to be a PEN Melbourne Honorary Member. Nedim has accepted our invitation. This means that PEN Melbourne will work purposefully and with many others, for his release. We will also help amplify awareness of his writings. Whilst in prison he has written a collection of poetry in Turkish, Kuş Aynası. Imagine the small mirror that people with budgerigars put in the cage for the birds’ own self-entertainment.
‘The Soul and the Beast,’ published here, has been translated from Nedim’s collection by Turkish-Australian poet, Hidayet Ceylan. Full details, including the original text in Turkish, are available at penmelbourne.org. It has been a complex process of dialogue about the translation, as we discuss the meanings and interpretations, without the presence and affirmation of the poet himself. Please read the poem, find out about Nedim’s circumstances, join our work for Nedim, and write to him in solidarity.