What follows is a brief run down for those of you, outside Turkey, unfamiliar with the unique talents of the contemporary Turkish writer and man of letters Atilla Birkiye. His prolific literary output ranges from journalism to poetry by way of literary criticism, novel writing, adaptations of classical Arabian literature, presenting arts and culture programmes - not to mention writing soap operas - for TV as well as finding time to pen the lyrics of musical spectaculars, organise poetry readings, lecture on Turkish literature  and write affectionate, quirky, illustrated semi-autobiographical “tourist guidebooks” to İstanbul, the city in which he was born on May 29, 1955.

 Atilla Birkiyestudied Philosophy in the Faculty of Letters at İstanbul University. After graduation, he stayed on in the same department to complete his postgraduate studies. Since then he has worked as an editor in publishing houses and on encyclopaedias and has served on the editorial boards of several literary magazines. He was appointed Secretary General of the Union of Turkish Writers, and has served on the Executive Board of Turkish Pen. 

 His first literary review was published in the Sanat Emeği Labour of Art magazine in 1978. After 1980 he became a full-time writer. He has contributed to such journals and newspapers as Yazko Edebiyat, Varlık, Yazko Çeviri, Somut, Dünya, Gösteri, Cumhuriyet, Cumhuriyet Kitap Eki, Kaçak Yayın, E. as well as having run the journals “Günümüzde Kitaplar” and “Kavram”.

 Birkiye’sliterary talents have also been exercised in the broadcasting and performing arts media. From 1992 to 1994 he produced and presented arts and culture shows for Turkish TV’s TRT2 and BRT channels. On the other side of the cameras, he wrote scripts for the last twenty-six episodes of channel TRT-1’s popular  TV serial, “Yazevi” (Summerhouse).  He arranged the text for the music/poetry performance, “Düşten de Güzel” (More Beautiful than a Dream), which was staged as part of the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet’s 1995/96 season. For the same company he co-wrote the lyrics with his brother Mehmet Birkiye  for the musical, “Anlat, Şehrazat” (Tell, Scheherazade), based on The Arabian Nights and staged during the 1997/98 season. He has organized poetry readings under the titles, “Love Poems” and “Istanbul Poems” comprising his personal selections from the works of 20th century Turkish poets. The readings are held in the İş Sanat Concert Hall in İstanbul where, since 2002, he has also been organising readings from the poetry of the great Turkish masters like Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı, Oktay Rifat, Melih Cevdet Anday, Orhan Veli, Behçet Necatigil, Özdemir Asaf, Attilâ Ilhan, Cemal Süreya, Metin Altıok. He adapted one of his above-mentioned 20thcentury Turkish poetry sessions, “Love Written on Time”, for the stage and in 2004 he wrote and directed the one man show “Gümüşsuyu Daisies”.

 Atilla Birkiye was the editor-in-chief of the Kavram Publishing House (which he himself had re-established), responsible for editing the first ever complete version of The Arabian Nights to be translated into Turkish (1992/93).

 For seven years, until 2001, he ran a weekly column in the Cumhuriyet newspaper “Işıldak ve Yelpaze” (The Projector and Fan”). His column, “Kalemin Ucu”, appeared regularly in the Referans newspaper between 2004 and 2008. On the teaching front, he has run a series of classes in culture for the Theatre Department of the Conservatory of Halic University and he currently lectures on The Modern Turkish Novel at İstanbul’s Bahcesehir University.

 In recent years, Birkiye has been writing book reviews and has also turned his critical attention towards the essay. He has also written narrative and lyrical essays, challenging and pushing the limits of the form.

 From the 1990’s onwards, shunning the conventions of the “new novel”, Birkiye’s style has inclined towards minimalism; consciously avoiding the depiction of objects, and preferring instead to deal with the portrayal of the human soul.

 As well as being an essayist and a novelist, Birkiye is also an accomplished poet - though he personally has never considered himself as such. The theme of love permeates all his poems. In fact, it is at the heart of all his writings, clearly making its presence felt in his essays, novels and even in his literary criticism.


Atilla Birkiye’sworks


A Red Carnation (1988), A Love Essay (1991), Love is a River(1993), Always Lived the Fall (1994), Love is Life Itself (2000), Always Lived the Fall (2003), I Have Always Written You (2008).


[Critical essay]

Thoughts Words Writings (1984), From the Eighties to Ninety (along with the first book, 1990), A Romantic Journey (A Study of Novel, 2005).



The Last Meal (1993), From Left to Right (1995), How to Solve a Love Puzzle (1999), A Shooting Star (2002),Love Trilogy (first three novels together, 2002), Love Pursuing Suicide(2004), Gümüşsuyu Daisies (2006), People Who Failed in Love in İstanbul (2010).



Determinations - an autumn journal (1985), From the Curtains to the Streets it had Spilled (1995), An Autumn Journal (along with A Red Carnation, 1995).



Love Starts With the Body of a Woman (1995), My Love is a Rain Drop on a Rose Leaf(prose-poetry, 1999), My Love is a Red Rose (the first two books, A Love Essay and along with new poems, 2003), Anguish in the Letters Unreturned (prose-poetry, 2003), Tell, Scheherazade (lyrics, 2009), Your Hair is October Loneliness (2009).



İstanbul is Love and Blues (poetry, 1999), A Selection of 20th Century Turkish Literature (2001), Anthology of Modern Turkish Poetry 1900-1929 (2004).



Towards a Critique of Structuralism (1984), Do Not Make Me Cry, So Big is My Trouble – A Tribute to Asım Bezirci (1993)



Aesop’s Fables (1991).



Meeting Places for Lovers in İstanbul (2010)

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