Turkish-Cypriot Literature
North Cyprus  

Taner Baybars 

  Taner Baybars ~ Secme Siirler (Selected Poems)Born in Nicosia, Cyprus, 18 June 1936. Educated privately, and at the Turkish Lycée, Nicosia. 

Served in the Royal Air Force, 1954-55. Books assistant, 1956-66, book exhibition assistant, 1966-67, periodicals assistant, 1967-72, head of overseas reviews scheme, 1972-81, in design production and publishing department, 1981-82, and book promotion officer, 1983-88, British Council, London.



  • Mendilin Ucundakiler, Nicosia, Çardak Yayinevi, 1953.
  • To Catch a Falling Man, Lowestoft, Suffolk, Scorpion Press, 1963.
  • Suslia in the Autumn Woods, Rushden, Northamptonshire, Sceptre Press, 1974.
  • Narcissus in a Dry Pool, London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1978.
  • Pregnant Shadows, London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1981.
  • Seçme Şiirler / Selected Poems (in Turkish translation by Mehmet Yasin), Yapi Kredi Yayinlari, 1997.
  • A Trap for the Burglar, London, Owen, 1965.
  • Life from a Diving Bell (to appear).
  • Plucked in a Far-Off Land: Images in Self Biography, London, Gollancz, 1970. (Translated into Turkish by Bahar Öcal Düzgören as Uzak Ülke, Istanbul, Yapi Kredi Yayinlari, 1997).
    Plucked in a Far-Off Land / Uzak Ülke by Taner Baybars

    Plucked in a Far-Off Land / Uzak Ülke by Taner Baybars

  • Snail’s Pace in the Charente (to appear).
  • Editor with Osman Türkay, Modern Turkish Poetry, London, Modern Poetry in Transition, 1971.
  • Translator, Selected Poems of Nazim Hikmet, London, Cape, 1967; New York, Humanities Press, 1968.
  • Translator, The Moscow Symphony and Other Poems, by Nazım Hikmet, London, Rapp and Whiting, 1970; Chicago, Swallow Press, 1971.
  • Translator, The Day Before Tomorrow, Nazim Hikmet, Oxford, Carcanet, 1972.
  • Translator, with Richard McKane, A Sad State of Freedom, by Nazım Hikmet, Warwick, Greville Press, 1990.
  • Manuscript Collection: University of Reading.


Comments by Baybars 


Watercolour by Taner BaybarsIn my view, a poem is the culmination of an intense experience which could not be expressed in any other form. If it could, then it would cease to be a poem although it might retain the shape of a poem. Also, because of its intense nature, a poem is essentially short. There is an obvious difference between poetry and verse, but that difference, nowadays, is almost always ignored. 


Howard Seargent on Baybars (in Contemporary Poets) 


Watercolour by Taner BaybarsTaner Baybars is a Cypriot who arrived in England in 1955 to study Law. He gave up the idea and stayed in London. He has since then been writing in English with quite remarkable effect. He has enjoyed an advantage over his British contemporaries in that he has remained free of group pressures and influences, and has never shown the slightest inclination to follow prevailing fashions in diction or style. His poems, successful or otherwise, have always been quite unlike anyone else’s.

Watercolour by Taner BaybarsTo Catch a Falling Man begins with the description of a cycle journey through the English countryside and these early pieces reflect a simplicity or clarity of vision allied to an unusually sophisticated and well-informed outlook, reinforced by a creative mind that enables him to evoke the scene in such phrases as the "coquettish wind perambulating in the wheels" or "the waves unkiss the cliff." Though his themes are quotidian -the demolition of an old house, taking barbitone for sleep, the end of a musical concert, spelling out his name, chopping down a tree, or even the sound of a key turning in the lock- he somehow contrives to surround them with a sinister atmosphere.




In his later work the simplicity of his earlier style gives way to a search for the unexpected, for what goes on below the surface of human relationships, for the motives beneath the conversation, for the realities underlying appearances.


Narcissus in a Dry Pool begins where To Catch a Falling Man concludes, stylistically. The individual nature of Baybars’s enquiry into the phenomena of existence and his odd and sometimes bizzare approach to his subject lends a sort of piquancy to his poetry. For a single volume there is a wide range of styles and types of writing, from the three-line haiku, to a series of love poems, "Explorations" to "The Loneliness of Columbus", a dramatic monologue. The description of a boy’s "Circumcision Just Before Puberty" leaves nothing to the imagination, but is nevertheless handled with extraordinary delicacy and understanding. The groups of poems "for Suslia Jane", his daughter, manifest a new preoccupation, that of observing his daughter’s gradual introduction to the external world and her development through touch, taste, sight and smell:


Seeing your own reflection on a doorknob
you begin to utter your name, then stop
in that conflux of brass stained by my hand.
Who? I hold you against the windowglass.

You exclaim: Dark! I put you down. You live
in a galaxy of sound absorbed by your tongue
and keeping your name a secret to your tongue
you grow in full awareness of others.


What seems to impress him most in this exploration of infancy and childhood is the paradox of innocence combining with an almost frightening kind of certainty arising from self-fulfilment.

Perhaps most interesting of all the poems devoted to the relationship between man and woman, the man always being Baybars himself and the woman a particular woman drawn from his private circle; they are, of course, love poems in every sense of the word, yet for Baybars the love relationship is complicated, for his partners are not merely women or lovers, but each, willingly or unwillingly, acquires a symbolistic quality which takes its idiosyncratic scope from some aspect of Baybars’s experience -his native country, his childhood, his family, his adolescence, etc.- and which inevitably defines the relationship for him.

  © Watercolour artworks by Taner Baybars  

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