Editor-in-Chief (Older but no wiser)
Hello reader, it’s good to have you here again. It has been an eventful few months here in Turkey; for the country and the BROB, but I’m going to keep it short.
Putting together this edition of the magazine has been more difficult and more time-consuming that any of the previous ones. It’s more work than I was expecting when I began.
Any regrets? No. I love it. I feel very privileged to be reading people's hard work and I think that this edition has more and better content than any of our previous offerings.
I’d like to thank Yabangee for hosting the writer’s expat expo. It was great to talk to other writers and have a chance to explain what we are trying to do with The Bosphorus Review, and also for sharing our new and updated submissions page. I can’t thank them enough; the exposure that they offered us really helped us to make this edition what it is.
On of the interesting things that happen this month is the German magazine Maviblau reached out to us. Maviblau is a German magazine that aims to foster artistic connections between Germany and Turkey. I feel that this is a goal that is simmilar to that of The review. We have published one of their articles and I'm looking forward to working them in the future.
Our biggest new development I suppose is that we have taken a new member on board. Many big welcomes to Erica Eller. She is going to be helping us out with submissions, editing, getting new readers and generally just being a useful person. It’s great to have her on board and I’ve already been impressed by the work that she’s done.
As usual, thanks to our cover artist, who this time is Aylin Demir. It looks great.
I think that's it from me. Happy reading.
The third issue has dawned upon us. Though it escapes me how, we have seemingly made leaps in every issue. If that be the case, then no doubt the largest leap was made between our last issue and this one.
If you have been following us, you may have noticed how much longer this issue is than the previous ones. I would like to think, though I am by no means unbiased here, that this improvement is not only in quantity, but also quality.
A lot has happened since our second issue. During that time, Luke and I had the privilege of speaking at the second installment in Yabangee’s monthly “Expat Spotlight” series, each time highlighting a different aspect of yabanci contributions to our city, with this one being on writing. Yabangee also graciously agreed to publish a submissions call for the magazine on their website afterwards. Shortly afterwards, we also had an article written on us in the Daily Sabah. The combined force of these two, along with the suggestions of our newest member, Erica Eller, who was specifically brought onboard to help in this area, did much to greatly increase the scope of our contributors and audience both locally and internationally.
This issue lives up to the name of the magazine, with poems like “Fog” and “Winter on the Domes” expressing some part of the humbling experience of living in a metropolis as large as this one. It also put our city into conversation with other cities, with poems like “Watermark” on post-Katrina New Orleans and “I’ve never been to Damascus,” comparing and contrasting Damascus and the American Mid-west. This third issue also represents the influence of the ongoing conflict in bordering Syria on the contemporary landscape of Istanbul with the creative non-fiction piece ”Black” and the review of Mustafa Khalifa’s “Shell.”
The improvement we made in this third issue hints at where this magazine could possibly take us. I am delighted by this, not only for our own interest or because of the work we put into it, but because I hope that the model we ascribe to, both in terms of its co-operative approach and devotion to cross-cultural and cross-lingual dialogue, because a more popular one in the industry. I’ve stated it on multiple occasions, but will reiterate it here once more. Both Luke and I are intimately familiar with how difficult the publishing world can be out there for starting writers. I am, therefore, committed to keeping this magazine accessible to both starting writers and more established ones, as well as writers whose native language is not English, while always keeping a keen eye on increasing quality as much as possible. I look forward to seeing where this magazine will take us in the next issue and beyond.
Editor and publicity assistant
‘Ara’ means break, or intermission, in Turkish. I had assumed this meaning was used in the name of Kafe Ara where we, the editorial board of the Bosphorus Review of Books (BRB), meet to conjure up possibilities for, or mull over the realities of the journal.
My second BRB meeting came after my own Spring break, or ara. My mom had just visited Istanbul for the first time and in the morning she’d already left. Her visit symbolized the culmination of the nearly three years I’ve been living here: by now, I can expect my close relatives to visit me in return for my previous trips back home to the U.S.
This time, as I was were sitting with Luke and Thomas at the cafe with our three laptops and various beverages scattered across the table, I noticed a group of people surrounding an old man to have their picture taken with him. It sparked my memory. A friend had told me about a cafe filled with a famous photographer’s work in Tom Tom, a neighborhood that is squished between many other smaller puzzle pieces of Beyoğlu like Tophane and Firuzağa that fall between the better known Cihangir and Galata areas. Suddenly, it dawned on my that this old man must be the photographer, and that we must be sitting in his cafe. I briefly searched for his name in google and came up with Ara Güler. The cafe’s name did not suggest intermission. Instead, it reflected the life work of a local artist with international renown.
I was ashamed to have nearly missed his presence because we were so busy discussing semi-colons. The epiphany dealt me a dose of surreal irony. Here sat a photographer who had captured some of the most striking images of Istanbul I’ve ever seen—at the cafe, online, and in the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. We were surrounded by his glorious images blown-up into dramatic wall hangings. Yet, he was having his own photograph taken by tourists as one might take a photograph of a rare bird seen in the wild. Quality, in that case, is not the objective. It only matters to quickly snap something to use as proof of the experience before the bird flies away. Ara Güler’s presence somehow concretized the beauty delivered through his camera lens. His work was not that of an immortal after all. I now appreciate the cafe even more as a space to develop creative work.
Reading the works in our May edition similarly blurred the lines between art and experience. The moods and textures, themes and focal points of the stories, poems and creative non-fiction pieces resonate deeply with my own experience of Istanbul where people are wedged into juxtapositions in physical, social, and emotional spaces that make our breath quicken and our pulse intensify.
I recently joined Luke and Thomas as a volunteer editorial and publicity assistant at BRB after watching their inspiring announcement of the literary journal at Yabangee.com’s Expat Spotlight on Writing event held at Bomontiada’s Atölye. I approached them and asked to help after describing my addiction to literary projects. They were thankful for my offer and welcomed me as a newcomer on board.
So, about this so-called addiction… My two Master’s degrees say a lot about me. I got one in Creative Writing, but it wasn’t enough, so I got another in English Literature. In San Francisco where I lived before moving to Istanbul, this interest in literature led me to branch out until I made a few self-published zines followed by a stint working at my university’s literary journal. I later started hosting my own literary events from my living room starting with play readings. Later I founded a monthly women’s reading series that still continues today thanks to the direction of new organizers (Hazel Reading Series). On the eve of my departure to move abroad in 2014, I had the chance to speak on a panel at the American Writer’s and Writing Programs Association annual conference held in Seattle alongside award winning writers and organizers. I spoke about my reading series concept in which the artists who read each take part in the curation of the next month’s event. This is meant to break down the divide between literary production and community involvement. The idea of writers supporting one another in their creative production has always appealed to me.
Once I came to Istanbul, I started juggling a variety of competing goals alongside my consistent desire to engage in literary projects. I had to work to pay off student loans, I felt determined to learn Turkish, and in my free time, I wanted to continue my literary pursuits. My first two years here left me with little free time, but I managed to find a few like-minded writers and we started a weekly writing meet-up. We gave ourselves a name: Yirmi Yedi. An incarnation of this project still continues. Through Yirmi Yedi’s activities, I attended Spoken Word Istanbul several times and became familiar with both Luke and Thomas on stage. Their charisma appeals to me because it reminds me of the kind of willing and ready attitude of other people I knew in San Francisco who had started and succeeded at organizing grassroots literary projects (Lawrence Ferlinghetti, for instance). Naturally, I’m now working alongside Luke and Thomas to help BRB grow.
The prospect of defying borders and other arbitrary limitations upon cultural exchange thrills me. I feel BRB fills an important niche by presenting works in English about a region as diverse and culturally relevant for both the West and the East as Istanbul. I’m excited to work within the premise of an international audience to develop means of engaging with the diverse range of voices that comprise Istanbul. In these early stages, I plan to attend to nuts and bolts such as an email list and possibly a twitter account to help us connect to new people and stay connected to our existing readers and contributors. Mostly, I can’t wait to discover what unexpected benefits—whether anecdotal or concrete—will come of my efforts.