Today, 3 November 2021, marks the 2000th day of detention for Nedim Türfent, a Kurdish poet, journalist and Honorary Member of English PEN. He is serving a sentence of eight years and nine months in prison for ‘membership of a terrorist organisation,’ a spurious charge related to his reporting on the special police forces’ ill-treatment of around 40 Turkish and Kurdish workers.
To mark this date, we have joined a global appeal with over 50 other organisations, including PEN International, to urge once again the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Nedim Türfent.
We are also proud to publish one of the poems he has written in prison ‘Following the Traces of You’ translated by Caroline Stockford.
Following the Traces of You
Loneliness lays its hand on my heart
Just there, just somewhere
A gentle twinge
A tender melancholy
How can I explain?
In the pitch of darkness
I grapple, struggle with your absence.
A never-ending adventure
I fill blank pages
With line after line of the lack of you,
Scribbling it hastily.
To write you, to write down
Is so hard a thing to do!
Striving to write you
Is like a state of stammering,
Stuck in its form like a tied tongue
I’m unable to say so, to spell it out
On these prolific pages
I exist in the roll call
Of your absence.
Here at the shoreline
of my aching eyes, it’s easy to say
I miss you. Here, in a palm-sized cell
Is a world’s worth of longing.
Translated by Caroline Stockford
Image: Digital piece by artist Ai Weiwei created for English PEN’s centenary, Common Currency, and displayed at the Southbank Centre in London, UK, as part of festival English PEN 100 (24-26 September 2021). Photo by George Torode