Ataol Behramoğlu was born in Çatalca, Istanbul in 1942. He graduated from the Department of Russian Language and Literature in the Faculty of Languages, History and Geography at Ankara University in 1966. In 1965, he published his first poetry book. In 1970, he published his second book of verse "One Day Definitely". He pursued his study of language and literature in England, France, and Soviet Union for 4 years. Fragments of “One Day Definitely” were published in “Les Lettres Françaises” edited by Louis Aragon.
Behramoğlu participated in the founding of Theatre de Liberté based in Paris and wrote texts to “Legendes à Venir”, the first spectacle of the group. During this period, his translations including Pushkin’s’ “Collected Novels and Short Stories” (2 Vol.) and “The short stories of M. Gorky plays of Chekov” were published in Turkey. Between November 1972 and June 1974, he worked as a researcher and assistant in the Faculty of Russian Philology, Chair of Russian and Soviet Literature at Moscow State University. His third book of poetry “Poems of the Road, Longing, Courage and Struggle” was published in Turkey in 1974. His other collections of poems such as “Neither Rain… Nor Poems” (1976), “During the Siege” (1978), “The Epic of Moustapha Suphi” (1979), “Quatrains” (1980) were published in Turkey.
He published and directed literary magazines such as “Halkın Dostları” (1970-1971) with Ismet Özel and “Militan” (1975-1976) with Nihat Behram. Behramoğlu also served as a dramaturge in the Istanbul Municipal Theatre between 1974 and 1980. In 1984, he attended seminars on Turkish and World Poetry in the Center de Poetique Comparee of Sorbonne University. A new edition of his “Neither Rain… Nor Poems” (1981) was confiscated, and he was detained and kept under custody for some time.
In 1981, Behramoğlu collected a series of humoristic and critical poems under the title “Wanted: A Good Citizen” and set these to music in a cabaret act. This work of political satire was staged several times and regarded as one of the first examples of Turkish political cabaret. A selection of Behramoğlu’s poetry was translated into Greek and published by Sinhroni Epohi along with a laudatory attention of Ritsos (1981).
In Istanbul, Behramoğlu published his own translations of poems selected from the work of Aragon, Brecht, A. Jozsef, Lorca, José Marti, Maiakovsky, Neruda, Petöfi, Pushkin, Ritsos and others under the title “Ballads of Botherhood.” After the session of the Turkish peace Association Trial in 1983, he had to leave his country and moved to Paris. In 1984, he got involved in the work, which was organized by the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations at the Center for Comparative Poetry, belongs to Sorbonne University. He represented Turkey in the International Poetry Festival organized in Rotterdam. In 1985, Behramoğlu was awarded a M. A. (Diplomes D’etudes Approfondies/ D.E.A) from the Center Comparative Poetry for his study on the poetries of Nazım Hikmet and Maiakovsky. In Germany, his two books of poetry “Turkey, My Sad Country, My Beautiful Land” and “Letters to My Daughter” were published in Turkish in 1985. In Paris, Behramoğlu published many poetry magazines such as “Anka” (1986), “A Living Poetry” (1986). In 1987-1988, his “Epic of Moustapha Suphi” was put on stage by Turkish Theatre Group in Exile and represented in several cities in Europe.
Behramoğlu has participated in several meetings in Turkey and abroad, read his poems and given lectures . He published two poetry books: “The Anthology of Turkish Poetry Last Century” and “The Anthology of Russian Poetry”, both of which have been prepared by the poet since the beginning of 80’s. In 1988, a selection of his poems was translated and published in Hungary by the Europe Publishing House.
After returning to Turkey in 1989, Behramoğlu published his collected poems in three volumes (1991-1992). In 1992, his musical “Be Happy Nazım”, which was about the last period of life of Nazım Hikmet, was staged several times in Turkey and abroad. In 1993, his documentary musical, “Lozan” was staged by the Turkish state Theatre in Antalya and in Istanbul (1993).
Behramoğlu served as the president of Turkish Writers Syndicate between 1995 and 1999. Since 1995, he has served in the literary and political critic at the cadre of daily “Cumhuriyet”. His poems have been widely translated and published in several foreign languages. In 2003, he was awarded “The Great Prize of Poetry 2003” by the Turkish International P.E.N. In 2016 Behramoğlu received a Mihai Eminescu Medal and Opera Omnia Award in the International Poetry Festival in Craiova, Romania.
Reference: ataolbehramoglu.com.tr, dosthane.de; Enver Ercan, İstanbul’un 100 Şiiri (Istanbul: İstanbul Büyükiehir Belediyesi Kültür A.Ş., Yayınları, 2010), 116.