Karin Karakaşlı was born in Istanbul in 1972. She graduated in Translation and Interpreting Studies. From 1996 to 2006 she worked at the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos as editor, head of the editorial department and columnist on both Turkish and Armenian pages. She has completed an M.A. in Comparative Literature, works as a translation instructor at the university and as a teacher of Armenian language and literature in an Armenian High School. She is currently a columnist at Agos and Radikal newspapers, and continues to write fiction and poetry.
Her books include a children’s novel called Ay Denizle Buluşunca (When the Moon Meets the Sea), short story collections Başka Dillerin Şarkısı (Song of Other Languages), and Can Kırıkları (Splinters of the Heart), works of poetry, Her Kimsen SANA (Whoever you are this is FOR YOU), a novel is Müsait Bir Yerde İnebilir Miyim? (Can I Get Out Somewhere You Don’t Mind?).
“Everything started with an uneven and lumpy ‘A’ letter written on the wall. My first declaration to the world that I want to leave a trace as a child. Inside the house my grandmother would show me other signs of A and B’s. “What’s this grandma?” “It’s Armenian.”
There I was left totally confused and fascinated with two labyrinths of alphabets and two languages, both rivaling with each other for being my mother tongue; one for home and one for the street. Sometimes I would confuse them and create my unique language in a single question: “Bu inch e?” Meaning “What is this?”; ‘bu’ in Turkish, ‘inch e’ in Armenian.
Completely deprived of any talent for mathematics, I was more and more oriented to the world of languages. There came new foreign ones to be learned and I experienced them like putting on new clothes. Writing was at that time only present in form of letters, journal and day-dreaming, useful to create imaginary friends. However, towards the end of the university term, I began to form short-stories. There I guess, writing turned to literature because this time there was the urge and the will to say my word and to reach other people with it. So I needed the mathematics of fiction and the music of the language which required a lot of hard work beside pure inspiration and sensitivity.
Literature both records the officially denied truth and also imagines other possibilities of life. It is a poetic political language making it possible to underline the autonomy and individuality of every living, dead or inanimate creature. You can exceed time and space, question stereotypes, prejudice, gender and propaganda.
I learned how difficult yet inevitable it was to be one and the same with your words. This gave them their special power. Otherwise they would be utterances only, easy to tell and easier to forget.
I remained loyal to my childhood uniqueness of ‘Bu inch e’. Not to be forgotten but to remember myself.”
Read some of Karins translated poems here.
photo: Berge Arabian