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Syndic Literary Journal

My Tongue Licks

Written by Yesim Agaoglu

Translated from Turkish by Nihal Yeginobali

Narrated by Bill Wolak


my tongue slithers along nocturnal streets.
slides around licking nooks and corners
wherever it moves
licks people sometimes
ah, but that’s the danger
my tongue hears the sound of a horn
lick first the horn then the black man’s mouth
then a guitar amply electrified
a punk’s head, green
lick the wino slouching on the corner
lick the night
hard, as though to bring on the dawn
my tongue has turned soot black
and at long last it’s you it licks as hard as it can
and suddenly we look and it’s already dawn


Poet and artist Yesim Agaoglu was born and lives in Istanbul. She graduated from Istanbul University with a B.A. from the Art History and Archeology Department. Subsequently, she also completed an M.A. in Istanbul University majoring in Radio, Television, and Cinema. Yesim has also studied for a short time at the New York School of Visual Arts. Yesim has been writing poetry since the age of five and publishing her poetry in literary magazines since the age of eighteen. She has published seven books of poetry in Turkey; in addition, book-length editions of her poetry have been translated into Azeri, Russian, and English. Her poetry also has been translated into many other languages as well. She is a member of PEN International. As an artist, she has had four solo exhibitions in Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Georgia, and Norway. Also, she has participated in numerous exhibitions and biennales in Turkey and around the world.
Nihal Yeginobali is one of the most esteemed translators in Turkey. Born in Manisa, Turkey, in 1927, she was educated in the American College for Girls in Istanbul, then went abroad to take her university degree in American Litera- ture at the State University of New York (SUNY). She has translated classical English novels as well as short stories into Turkish. She is also the author of a great many novels, becoming a best seller for those written under the pseud- onym “Vincent Ewing,” whose true identity she later revealed.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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