Gonca Özmen

Gonca Özmen was born in Burdur, Turkey, in 1982. She studied English Language and Literature at Istanbul University, receiving an MA in 2008 and a PhD in 2016.  Her first poem was published in 1997 and in 1999 she received the Ali Rıza Ertan Poetry Prize. Her first collection Kuytumda (In My Nook, 2000) won the Orhon Murat Arıburnu Poetry Prize and in 2003 she received Istanbul University’s Berna Moran Poetry Prize.

Her second collection Belki Sessiz (Maybe Silent) appeared in 2008 and published in German, translated by Monika Carbe, in 2017. A selection of her poems in English, The Sea Within, translated by George Messo, appeared in 2011.

She is one of the editors of the literary magazine Çevrimdışı Istanbul and a member of the advisory board of Bursa Nilüfer International Poetry Festival and the magazine, Turkish Poetry Today, published annually by Red Hand Books, England. She is also a member of the Three Seas Writers’ and Translators’ Council (TSWTC) in Rhodes, Greece. 



Sebastian there’s nothing I can tell you about the snow of this mountain

Your every waking isn’t splinters, your every turn is not beyond you

You’ve never given birth so how can you know

Being split down the middle not like a pomegranate or watermelon

It’s not so easy to reach that spell

To gather your things and migrate to your own stomach

To become a ruin


Sebastian in the past I had red animals

Howling at night from both of us for both of us to both of us

If two of us love the same man will a rose grow from this

Let’s take blue buses let’s take them and be cooler

Let’s listen to songs of pain and chew their fruit

My hanging in between

Would it be something my lover could see 


Once I was in love with a rhinoceros 

Once he looked at me

Once I had a lump in my throat

Once I was burning for him

Once I was stilled


Sebastian didn’t you once lose your heart too? 


translated from Turkish by Zoë Skoulding and the author