Özkan Mert

Özkan Mert

Özkan MertMert Born October on 21, 1944, at the outskirts of the Palandöken mountain in Erzurum. Contracted TBC when he was two years old. His father bought a grave for him as the doctors told him he had not more than a few days to live. However, he was cured by concoctions and potions prepared by a peasant woman.

His father, who was in the army, being appointed to a post in Konya, he began his studies in the primary school there. After eight years of study in Konya, the family moved to İzmir. In his first year at the Lycee Namık Kemal, he had a relapse of TBC and had to be hospitalized where he spent three years undergoing a successful treatment. At the conclusion of which he resumed his studies. During his lycee years he began to work for the Labor Party (TIP) and was elected head of the youth organization of TIP. The last year of his Lycee he abandoned his studies and enlisted in the army. Having completed the basic army training he was sent to Ağrı to serve in the exiles battalion on grounds of his communistic propensities.

Upon the conclusion of his service, he entered the graduation exams and completed his lycee studies successfully. He worked for a fortnight at the Private Organization before resigning his post. He then left for Ankara to pursue his studies. He enrolled in the department of Chinese studies in DTCF (The Languages, History and Geography Faculty of Ankara University.) After a 6 month topography course he began working as topographer in various regions of Turkey as an employee of TEK (Turkish Electricity Organization).

His profession as a poet dates back to his youth in İzmir. He was one of the leading militants during the ’68 incidents in Ankara. In the students elections of the DEV-GENÇ (Revolutionary Youth) he was elected member of the federation of students representing the revolutionaries.
In the forum organized by the magazine ANT, along with three other young poets, at the end 1969, under the caption of ‘The Revolutionary poets declare war’, he announced his opinions about the ‘New Socialist Poetry’, versus the Second New Movement. He affixed his signature on the ‘Manifesto of Poems of the ’60s’.

In his dissident poems such as Resist o my Heart/ From our lives/ I am an Asian and my wound is deep/, We will rebuild everything, etc.. published in such literary magazines as ANT, Halkın Dostları, Türk Solu, Papirüs, Dönem, he became the favorite poet of all the militant students, revolutionary masses and poetry lovers of the time,

His poetry was widely read and recited at student demonstrations and meetings. His first book of poetry published during the said period We will rebuild everything was banned. His ‘Poems of Protest’ carries greater weight at present than at the time it was published.

When the military Junta of 1971 condemned him to 8 year imprisonment (1972) he left the country for Germany where he spent 10 months before going over to Sweden as a political refugee. During 1980-2006 he served as programmer and presenter at Radio Sweden; and 2006-2008 he worked at the Swedish State Theater as Head of International Theater and Culture Projects.

As a poet, newspaperman and tourist, he has visited many countries of the world. Actually he is working as a domestic and foreign coordinator and manager or projects related to culture, literature and poetry projects organized in Turkey and abroad. He acts as adviser to cultural organizations in Sweden.

His poems adapted for theater and his plays are on stages of various nations.

Özkan Mert, considered as the corner stone of modern Turkish poetry, is also known as a Swedish poet.