Thursday, May 14, 2009

Your brother, his hair, black coal, coal tar

The mission of Poetry Scores is to translate poetry into other media. Today I am thinking of other acts of translation - coal into tar, itch into prescription - but it all leads back to Poetry Scores.

This week my dermatologist diagnosed my itchy scalp as psoriasis and prescribed me a shampoo with the unlikely ingredient of coal tar. This made me think, naturally, about Turkish poetry.

Actually, about one Turkish poem, Blind Cat Black by Ece Ayhan; more specifically, one specific poem in its prose poetic sequence, which yokes the images of hair and coal.


... grown. And you used to go to bed with a pharaoh
till the mornings. The rainy months of exile.

Hairpins in your mouth. A bird, it liked to land; stood on his arm
tattooed with monsters.

And your brother used to hold your hair, black coal. A town is visible
when you smile.

Then you ran to a gun "I love you" etched on its muzzle. Ready to bear
this monstrous traveler in hashish.

- Ece Ayhan
- Trans. from Turkish by Murat Nemet-Nejat

So many lines that amaze me, here, but I got an entire winsome country song out of that one line, "And your brother used to hold your hair, black coal."

Free mp3

"Black Coal"
(Ece Ayhan, Chris King, Murat Nemet-Nejat)
Three Fried Men

I made a movie to our poetry score to Blind Cat Black. Kevin Belford has been kind enough to post the clip to the "Black Coal" segment up on that there YouTube. Starring Toyy Davis and Jason Wallace Triefenbach.


The image by Odilon Redon was drawn with coal and is lifted from Ibiblio.

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