Prof. Talat Sait Halman

Style of Art : Poet, translator, cultural historian
Branch of Art : Poetry, translation, cultural history
Art Profile :

Professor Talât Sait Halman was born in Istanbul in 1931. He graduated from Robert College in Istanbul. In the mid-1950s, he received his Master′s degree from Columbia University in Political Science, International Relations and International Law. During his long and on-going academic career, he has taught at Columbia University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, where he also served as Chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures.

In 1971, Prof. Halman served as Turkey′s Minister of Culture and created the Ministry. He was the first person ever to hold this cabinet post. While serving as minister, he coordinated the landmark first American tour in 1971 of the "Whirling Dervishes," who practice the ritual "turning" meditation of the tradition of Jelaluddin Rumi. In the same year, during her visit to Turkey, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. conferred a Knight Grand Cross (GBE) on him. In 1976, Halman oversaw the first American museum tour of historical and cultural artifacts from the Ottoman Sultans′ palace (Topkapi Palace). From 1980 to 1982, he was Turkey′s first Ambassador for Cultural Affairs. Based in New York, Prof. Halman inaugurated a comprehensive program of Turkish cultural activities. From 1991 to 1995, he was a member of UNESCO′s Executive Board.

Prof. Halman was also a well-known translator into English as well as Turkish. His books in English include two collections of his poems: "Shadows of Love" (published in Canada), and "A Last Lullaby" (published in the United States); Contemporary Turkish Literature, Modern Turkish Drama, Living Poets of Turkey, three books of the 13th century Anatolian mystic folk poet Yunus Emre, Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes (with Metin And), Suleiman the Magnificent (as a poet), Turkish Legends and Folk poems, Tales of Nasreddin Hoca, and others. His 1984 book on Celalettin Rumi preceded and contributed to the wave of Rumi enthusiasm in the United States in the 1990s. He has also published books featuring selections from the work of Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca, Orhan Veli Kanık, Sait Faik Abasıyanık, and Melih Cevdet Anday. His renditions of three Turkish plays (I, Anatolia by Güngör Dilmen, Old Photographs by Dinçer Sümer, and In Ambush by Cahit Atay) have also been published. His books in Turkish include nine collections of his original poems, two massive anthologies of the poetry of ancient times, a book of Ancient Egyptian poems, the selected poems of Wallace Stevens and Langston Hughes, an anthology of living American poets, a book of American woman poets, his verse translations of Shakespeare′s Complete Sonnets, a book of Eskimo poems, a one-actor play featuring Shakespeare, etc. He has translated Robinson Jeffers′ version of "Medea"′, Neal Simon′s "Lost in Yonkers", "Dear Liar" (based on George Bernard Shaw-Mrs Patrick Campbell letters) and Eugene O′Neill′s "The Iceman Cometh". He was the first Turkish translator of William Faulkner.

Honors include Columbia University′s "Thornton Wilder Prize" for lifetime achievement as translator, an honorary doctorate from the Boğaziçi University, a Rockefeller Fellowship in the Humanities, the UNESCO Medal, and "Knight Grand Cross, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire". In 2000, Prof. Halman was honored on his 70th birthday with a Festschrift (a volume of scholarly articles complied by colleagues as a tribute to an eminent scholar). Professor Halman′s Festschrift, published by Syracuse University Press and edited by Dr. Jayne Warner, is titled "Cultural Horizons: a Festschrift in honor of Talat S. Halman."  In 2005, with Associate Editor Jayne L. Warner, Prof. Halman edited and translated an anthology of Turkish love poems covering the entire span of Turkish poetry: "Nightingales and Pleasure Gardens: Turkish Love Poems" (Syracuse University Press, 2005). In 2006, Syracuse University Press also published "The Turkish Muse: Views and Reviews": a retrospective anthology of Prof. Halman′s collected poems, fiction, drama, essays and other writings (edited by Jayne Warner).

Over the course of the last decade, Professor Halman, together with his daughter Defne Halman, presented many readings of Poems by the 13th-century Turkish great poet Yunus Emre (d. 1321). Halman helped to found the program on Turkish languages and literature with a goal of introducing new critical approaches at Bilkent University in Ankara and served as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Letters. Prof. Halman also served as a member of the Executive Committee of the American PEN Center, the Poetry Society of America, Academy of American Poets, Turkish Studies and the Association, and the Editorial Board of World Literature Today. In addition to it, he was a member of UNICEF Turkish National Commission and an editor in chief of Journal of Turkish Literature. Prof. Halman passed away in Ankara in 2014.

Selected his publications:
Yunus Emre Selected Poems, Ankara: Ministry of Culture, 1993.
Eski Anadolu ve Ortadoğu’dan Şiirler, Istanbul: Akbank Publications, 1996.
Sessiz Soru, Ankara: Bilgi Publisher, 1998.
Doğrusu: Siyasal Yazılar, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Publications, 1999.
21. Yüzyılda Üniversite ve Kültür, Ankara: Türkiye Bilimler Akademisi, 2002.
Baba Tahir Üryan, Istanbul: Koç Kitapları, 2003.
Türk Shakespeare, Ankara: Hece Publications, 2003.
Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi: Sevda Yüce Gözlerle: Seçme Rubailer, Ankara: Hece Publications, 2003.
Shakespeare: Soneler, Istanbul: Dünya Publications, 2004.
Güneş Tanrı ile Sevgi Ozanı: Eski Mısır’dan Şiirler, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Publications, 2004.

TÜBA Service Award (1999)
The Turkish Foreign Ministry, Eminent Service Award
UNESCO Medal (1995)
Boğaziçi University honorary doctorate (1988)
Thornton Wilder Award, Columbia University (1986)
Leading Turkish Scholar in the United States Award, Assembly of Turkish American Associations.



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