Flying Economy to Byzantium

As we sit, puzzling over how our shoelaces get tied, I’m awaiting the departure of a snow-delayed flight to Heathrow. From thence (after what will now be a mad dash between terminals including retrieving my own luggage and checking in) to Istanbul, where I will meet up with fellow Loser Zöe.

I’m hoping to travel out on the same flight as the Cardiff Daedalus, Richard Gwyn, and also on this outing will be Scottish Poetry Library Director, Robyn Marsack.

The purpose of the exercise is translation – specifically 6 Turkish writers for an anthology to be published by Arc. However, the whole thing has been organised by international jewel thief Francesca (AKA Alexandra) Büchler of the LAF, so socialites of Istanbul are clutching their diamonds nervously.

Richard and I were in Gümüslük, a little arts colony/academy near Bodrum, a while back, on the first leg of this venture, where we worked with Gökçenur C., Efe Duyan, and Pelin Özer. I expect we’ll see them again as well as some of the other writers to be included in the anthology.

Robyn and I were in Helsinki a few years back as part of a project in which 20 Scottish writers were translated into Finnish, though the writers themselves were not involved in that process. But translation, as ever, is the engine bringing us all together.

Among my personal goals for the week ahead, as you might expect of someone with a keen interest in Byzantine and Ottoman history, is locating the Loser’s Club Nia Davies photographed last year, and indeed a pub I passed by on the tram at last year’s Istanbul Poetry Festival, which seemed to be called The North Shield.

As an inhabitant of the holy borough of North Shields, I’m obliged to check it out for perneing, gyring, or indeed gimbling.

At this point, however, I remain seated on a stationary plane, which has been de-iced, thankfully on the outside. I have very little idea when it will leave or whether I’ll make the connection (which Richard tells me is also considerably delayed). I’m drawing stupid pictures in the inflight magazine like a six year old. What a loser!

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About Bill Herbert

Poet and pseudo-scholar W.N. Herbert was born in Dundee in 1961, educated there and at Oxford, where he completed his DPhil thesis on Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid, and now lives and works in Newcastle. He is Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and his books are published by, among others, northern publisher Bloodaxe Books. He is also the Dundee Makar, or city laureate.
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One Response to Flying Economy to Byzantium

  1. Alexandra says:

    Flying to Byzantium yesterday, sailing to Buyukada tomorrow … island socialites, lock up your glitter … My alter ego has arrived. So that’s four of us original losers here, and two to be admitted to the coveted club.

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