Talat Sait Halman

Edebiyat Tarihçisi, Akademisyen, Yazar, Şair

07 Temmuz, 1931
05 Aralık, 2014
New York Columbia University Political Sciences and Middle East Literatures Department

He is a poet and author (b. 7 July 1931,– d. 5 December 2014, Ankara). His family is originally from Trabzon and he is the son of Rear Admiral Sait Halman, who was the Commander of Atatürk’s Reserve Fleet. He graduated from Robert College (1951) and New York Columbia University Political Sciences and Middle East Literatures Department (1954). He worked as a lecturer of Turkish Language in the faculty he graduated from (1953-60), as a commentator at United Nations Radio and as General Manager at a recording company, the Record Hunter. While he was working as an academician at Princeton (New Jersey) University in the USA, he was invited to Turkey to be appointed as the first Minister of Culture of the Turkish Republic (July 17th, 1971) in the Nihat Erim government established during the 12th March (1971) period. When his ministry was removed, he resumed his former duty in the USA.

He taught as a professor at Princeton University (1972-80) and became Ambassador for Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1980. He served as Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania between 1984-86. From 1986 to 1997, he worked as a professor at New York University and as Head of the Department of Middle East Languages and Literatures.  He was a member of the executive board of UNESCO between 1991 and 1995. He established the Turkish Literature Department of Bilkent University in September 1998. He headed this department and the Turkish Literature Centre as “Guest Eminent Professor”. He served as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Letters. He has been the head of UNICEF’s Turkey National Committee since October 2003.

His poems, critical reviews, translations, and articles on literature and politics have appeared in journals and newspapers such as Yenilik, Türk Dili, Yeditepe, Şiir Sanatı, Varlık, Milliyet, kitap-lık . Between 1969-71 and 1982-2000, he wrote hundreds of articles under the general names of “Doğrusu” and “Can Kulağı”, “7 Gün 7 Yazar”, “Kültür” in the Milliyet newspaper. Between 1972 and 1975 he worked as a columnist with a column titled “Doğrusu” at the Akşam newspaper. Beginning in 2005, he wrote weekly articles in the newspaper supplement Cumhuriyet Ankara. In addition, he carried out the guest editorship of some issues of the journals Books Abroad, Contemporary Literature in Translation, Literature East & West, Pacific Quarterly Moana, Review of National Literatures, The Journal of Literary Translation, The Literary Review and The Poetry Society of American Bulletin and was on the editorial board of World Literature Today. During his years in America, he translated the works of Turkish poets and authors into English and carried out introductory works for  Turkish culture and literature.

Prof.Halman has about sixty books published in English and Turkish, two thousand newspaper and journal articles and about five hundred scientific articles, encyclopaedia articles and critical reviews. Among these important works, we can count an anthology comprising the poems of old civilizations, translations of all sonnets of Shakespeare, ancient Egypt, Middle East and Eskimo poems, books comprising his selected articles, his translations of Faulkner into our language, books about American poets, and his books in English about Mevlâna and Yunus Emre. He has also published translations in English. Some of his books have been translated into French, German, Hindi, Persian, Urdu, Hebrew and Japanese.

He was awarded the Outstanding Service Awards of TUBA (Turkish Academy of Sciences) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Queen Elizabeth granted Prof. Halman the honour of “Knight Grand Cross, GBE, The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire”, which corresponds to the title of “Sir”. Among various awards and gifts he has been given, there are the Thornton Wilder Literature Award,  an Honorary Doctorate from Boğaziçi University, a UNESCO Medal, the Rockefeller Human Sciences Scholarship, the Ankara Art Association’s Award, the Avni Dilligil Award, the Gift of Turkey Folklore Researches Institute, and the Most Successful Turkish Scientist in USA Award of the Turkish American Associations Assembly.

 “Talat Sait Halman has kneaded the sufism of the Eastern people with the rationalist, pragmatic understanding of the West within a philosophical system and reached a new synthesis. That new individual, although he lives a slovenly life, has grown with love and known looking at the world with the eyes of love. (…) Talat Sait Halman was a poet who has comprehended the essence of our old literature. That’s why it has been easy for him to introduce Yunus Emre and Mevlâna to the Western world.  That mystic poem, which rescues the individual from a monotonic life and enables him to test himself, possesses a potential able to change the world. So, Talat Sait Halman is the cultural envoy of that potential. Indeed, there is no need to furnish him with such a title. He is a poet, suffering from the memories, who dedicated himself to such an endeavour. In forgotten corridors of our literature, there are many hidden poets who look undiscovered and if Talat Sait Halman, who brought them to light, did not exist, the world could not know our contemporary poetry enough. However, those who ignore his deep knowledge of poetry, take the development of our contemporary poetry as surprising a foreign culture, as if self-created.” (Mustafa Şerif Onaran)


Talat Halman was born as a poet. I guess some branches of art are learned in the course of time, but the shortest path to write poetical lines well and easily is to be born as a poet. Yunus, Dante, Shakespeare, Pushkin, Tagore and others like them were also born as poets. Even though cultural background is necessary to produce good poems, what has carried some nations to where they are today was this poetic side of theirs. (…) Talat was writing poems in aruz prosody while he was a kid; sometimes as lyrically as possible, sometimes by adding a joke.” (Prof. Ataöv Türkkaya)


POEMS: Can Kulağı (1968), Bin Bir: Özdeyiş Şiirleri (1976), Canevi (1980), Tuyuğlar ve Başka Dörtlükler (1981), Uzak Ağıt (1991), Dört Gök Dört Gönül (1994), İki’ler (1997), Sessiz Soru (1998).

HUMOR: Şiirlerle Laz: Karadeniz Fıkraları (1992), Hepimüz Lazük: Karadeniz Fıkraları (1996).

REVIEW: William Faulkner (1963), Doğrusu (100 articles from Milliyet, 1999), 21. Yüzyılda Üniversite ve Kültür (2002),  A’dan Z’ye Yunus Emre (2003).

DRAMA: “Türk” Shakespeare: Kahramanlar ve Soytarılar (2003).

TRANSLATIONS INTO TURKISH: Duman (1952), Çalınan Taç (1953), Eskimo Şiirleri (1969), Wallace Stevens: Seçme Şiirler (1970), Langston Hughes (1971), Eski Mısır Şiiri (1972), Eski Uygarlıkların Şiirleri (1974), Yaşayan Amerikalı Şairler (1992), Amerikalı Kadın Şairler (1992), Eski Mısır’dan Şiirler: Güneş-Tanrı ile Sevgi Ozanı (1994), Eski Anadolu ve Orta Doğu’dan Şiirler (1996), Candan Cana: Mevlâna Celaleddin Rumi’den Seçme Rübailer (1999), Baba Tahir Üryan: Aşk Çırçıplak (2003), Shakespeare: Soneler (2003), Mevlâna’dan Seçme Rubâiler: Sevda Yüce Gözlerle (2003), Soneler (from Shakespeare, 2004).

POEMS IN ENGLISH: Shadows of Love (1979), A Last Lullaby (1990).

REVIEWS IN ENGLISH: Yunus Emre and His Mystical Poetry (1981), Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes (with Prof. Dr. Metin And, 1983), Turkish Legends and Folk Poems (1992), An Overview of Turkish Literature (2005).

TRANSLATIONS INTO ENGLISH: Selected Poems (1969) - Hiroshima (1970) (from Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca), I am Listening to Istanbul: Selected Poems by Orhan Veli Kanık (1971), The Humanist Poetry of Yunus Emre (1972), On the Nomad Sea: Selected Poems of Melih Cevdet Anday (1974), Modern Turkish Drama: An Anthology of Plays in Translation (1976), Dağlarca: Quatrains of Holland (1977), Dağlarca: The Bird and I (1980), Rain One Step Away: Selected Poems of Melih Cevdet Anday (1980), Contemporary Turkish Literature: Fiction and Poetry (1982), A Dot on the Map: Selected Stories and Poems by Sait Faik (1983), Süleyman the Magnificent Poet (1987), The Tales of Nasreddin Hoca (1988), Living Poets of Turkey: An Anthology of Modern Poems (1989), Old Photographs (Dinçer Sümer, 1990), Yunus Emre: Selected Poems (1990), I Anatolia (Güngör Dilmen, 1991), Just for the Hell of It: 111 Poems by Orhan Veli Kanık (1997), TÖMER Dil Dergisi / Special Issue on Talât Sait Halman (ed. Hüseyin Atabaş, April 2001), Beyond the Walls (with R. Christie, R. McKane , From Nâzım Hikmet, 2002), Sleeping in the Forest: Short Stories by Sait Faik (2004), Nightingales & Pleasure Gardens: Turkish Love Poems (2005), A Brave New Quest: 100 Modern Turkish Poems (2006).

ABOUT HIM: Mehmet Kaplan / Cumhuriyet Devri Türk Şiiri (1973, s. 534-541), Feyzi Halıcı / Parlamenter Şairler (1990), Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi Albümü 1920-1991 (1994), Gündüz Vassaf / Ahlakın Dinsiz Olanı (Virgül, Şubat 1988), Ertan Adalı / Talât Halman’dan “Sessiz Soru” (Cumhuriyet Kitap, 27.08.1998), Erendiz Atasü / Talât S. Halman’la Şiirleri Üzerine (Cumhuriyet Kitap, 7.10.1999), Behçet Necatigil / Edebiyatımızda İsimler Sözlüğü (18. bas. 1999), Şükran Kurdakul / Şairler ve Yazarlar Sözlüğü (gen. 6. bas. 1999), TBE Ansiklopedisi (2001), İhsan Işık / Yazarlar Sözlüğü (1990, 1998) - Türkiye Yazarlar Ansiklopedisi (2001, 2004) – Encyclopedia of Turkish Authors (2005) - Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (2006, gen. 2. bas. 2007) - Ünlü Fikir ve Kültür Adamları (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 3, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013), Hikmet Altınkaynak / Dünyayı Paylaşan Yazarlar (2001), Dil Dergisi Talât Sait Halman Özel Sayısı (editör: Hüseyin Atabaş, Nisan 2001), Adnan Binyazar Kültür ve Sanatla Yoğrulmuş Bir Yaşam: Talat Sait Halman - Mustafa Şerif Onaran / Edebiyatımızın Çelebi İnsanı - Türkkaya Ataöv / Sınıf Arkadaşım Ozan Talat (Cumhuriyet Kitap, 14.12.2001), Bibliography of Talat S. Halman (Bütün Kültürel ve Yazınsal Çalışmalarının Dökümü, 2001), Festschrift: Cultural Horizons / A Festschrift in Honor of Talat S. Halman (2001), İş’te Kitap (Bahar 2002), Aklın Yolu Bindir (2003), Mehmet Nuri Yardım / Yazar Olacak Çocuklar (2004), Mehmet Atilla Maraş / Şair Milletvekilleri 1 - 22. Dönem 1920-2005 (2005), Emre Erdem / ‘Kültürümüz Görkemli Bir Sentezdir’ (söyleşi, Radikal Kitap, 20.1.2005), TYB Kültür ve Sanat Yıllığı (2015).





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