Necip Fazıl Kısakürek: Turkish 'Sultan of Poets'

Turkish poet, novelist and activist is being commemorated Saturday on the 36th of his .

Born on June 9, 1904 to Abdülbaki Fazıl Bey and Mediha Hanim, Kısakürek is also known for his works on Islamic thought.

He received his primary education in many schools, including the French School, Robert College, and the Naval School in Istanbul.

Kısakürek's interest in poetry was sparked when he was still a high school student. He published his first magazine, Nihal, in 1916, when he at the Naval School.

Remembering those early years, he later said: "That school made me who I am today."

His first poems were published in 1922 in Yeni Mecmua, a magazine founded by poet, novelist, and politician Ziya Gökalp and published by novelist and diplomat Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu and others.

In 1924, Kısakürek published his first book of poetry, Örümcek Ağı (Spider Net). In 1928 he published Kaldırımlar (Pavement), a second volume that burnished his reputation.

Kısakürek's works were spiritual, isolationist, and sentimentalist, exploring divine unity. But in 1934, Kısakürek meeting religious figure Abdulhakim Arvasi was to affect his life and works.

"My life was flowing in a stream trying to find a magnificent thing. I was looking for someone in sensitivity of a somehow spiritless cause. Someone…" Kısakürek said in I and him, an autobiographical book.

His play Tohum (Seed), focusing on Islam and Turks, was staged in 1935 at the Istanbul City Theaters by Muhsin Ertuğrul, a Turkish actor and director. Telling the story of a playwright's desperation, Bir Adam Yaratmak (To Create a Man) got public attention when it was first staged two years later.

Kısakürek wrote a poem titled Büyük Doğu (Great East) in 1938 for a competition. In 1943, he founded a magazine of the same name. Using pen names, he wrote on Islamic culture and values in the magazine.

But the provincial government closed the magazine in 1947 due to a poem it republished by Rıza Tevfik about Abdul Hamid II, one of the last Ottoman sultans.

Due to his articles and publications allegedly "insulting Turkishness," Kısakürek was arrested and served a little over a month in prison.

On Dec. 11, 1952, Kısakürek wrote his book titled Now I Rip off Your Mask, telling of his time in prison along with other memories and thoughts since 1943.

In 1973 Necip Fazil Kısakürek directed his son, Emrah, to found a publishing house titled Great East which reprinted his previous works.

In 1980, the Turkish Literature Association named Kısakürek the "Sultan of Poets" -- only the second person to receive that honor -- and in 1982 the "Intellectual and Artist of the Year."

Kısakürek died on May 25, 1983 and was buried in Eyüp Sultan Cemetery in Istanbul.

The renowned poet's personal belongings, photos, manuscripts, and memoirs are exhibited in in Ümraniye, Istanbul.

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