Word Express, Istanbul

November 5, 2010

This time last week I was on my way to Istanbul, to join in the events that formally closed Literature Across Frontiers‘ (LAF) brilliant Word Express project. The network of friendships and translation won’t close down though: that’s the enduring, unquantifiable effect of such projects. I saw the rose-pink station where the Orient Express used to pull in, and where many writers disembarked in 2009. Poets who had been on SPL/LAF workshop at Crear this summer were reunited; it was a great pleasure to see Efe Duran and Gokçenur Ç on their home ground and to participate in the face-to-face poetry event they organised at the Nazim Hikmet café. Our Reader in Residence Ryan Van Winkle was there too, recording poets for our podcast series as we crossed the Bosphorous (İstanbul Boğazı) on a sunny afternoon, sipping çay. I chaired a panel discussion on minority languages at the Istanbul Book Fair, which ended with a poem in Welsh and a song in Basque. As Iain Crichton Smith wrote, ‘Like a rainbow, like crayons, spectrum of beautiful languages’.

– Robyn