The Blind Cat Black and the Orthodoxies
Author: Ece Ayhan
Translator: Murat Nemet-Nejat
Publisher: Sun and Moon Press (1997)
Born in 1931, the important Turkish poet Ece Ayhan worked from 1962 to 1966 as head officer in different districts of the provincial administration. In 1996 he quit his position, returning to Istanbul, where he worked as translator for the Turkish edition of the French dictionary Larousse (Meydan Larousse) and the archives section of the Turkish Cinematèque Association.
During all this period Ayhan continued also to write poetry, publishing major works such as Miss Kinar's Waters(1959), A Blind Cat Black (1965), and Orthodoxies(1968). In the last two works, published here, Ayhan takes the reader through the dark streets of the Galata district of Istanbul, an area where European minorities lived historically side by side with red light sexual activities. Like a modern-day Rimbaud, Ayhan, in this remarkable translation, explores linguistically and thematically what Turkish culture and authorities have forbidden.
Writing in The Nation upon the occasion of this book's original publication in 1997, critic Chris King observed: "This is more than another journal of disintegration in a gay-baiting world. It is a virtuosic study of what you can do with lyricism denied, besides choke on it. Like brilliant musicians who crave simple emotion, yet love dissonance and the technical complexities of their instruments, Ayhan and Nemet-Nejat play endlessly on our heartstrings and bow—worry, even break them."