The Poet of Jerusalem: Nuri Pakdil

Just like in any other country where literature plays an important and significant role, Turkey has its own long list of notable poets. One of them is Nuri Pakdil, the poet of Jerusalem. 

Nuri Pakdil was born in Kahramanmaraş, a city in the Mediterranean Region of Turkey, in 1934. Nuri’s father, Emin Efendi, was against sending young Nuri to school. However, his uncle insisted on enrolling him into secondary school after Nuri graduated from elementary school by passing a special exam. Afterwards Nuri moved to Istanbul to attend Law School at the University of Istanbul. 

Nuri knew from a very young age that he wanted to become a writer and poet. As a young child he spent most of his time reading books written in the old Ottoman script. In his high school years, he published his first essays and poetry in a local newspaper. And not long after that, he started editing the art pages of a magazine in Istanbul. Having an own poetry magazine had always been his dream. So, in 1954 he and his schoolmates put together their own magazine called ‘Hamle’ (Move). According to different sources, his role model at that time was the Turkish poet Necip Fazil. 

After graduating from Law School gained his attorney’s license after an internship of one year. He quickly changed career direction and started working for the State Planning Organization until 1973. Then he started working for the Ministry of Industry. 

In 1969 he finally began publishing ‘Edebiyat Dergisi’, Journal of Literature. He also started to write and publish his own books. In total, Nuri wrote 18 books throughout his life. In his first book ‘Western Notes’ he compares the Western and Islamic worlds. 

Nuri Pakdil and his friends became famous as the Seven Beautiful Men. Based on their story a Turkish tv drama was made, called ‘Seven Good Men’ (Yedi Guzel Adam). The series was written by Cahit Zarifoğlu, a poet from the same birthplace as Nuri. 

The poet was also known as the Poet of Jerusalem. This is because of his love for the city and its history. His once wrote: 

“Half of my heart is Mecca and the rest is Medina. There is Jerusalem on it like a tulle.”

His most famous poem is called ‘Mothers and Jerusalem’:

Live Mount Tûr
Where in Jerusalem?
I carry Jerusalem like a wristwatch
Without adjustment to Jerusalem
You spend time in vain
Keeps ice
Your eyes are blind
Be a mother
Because mother
A child makes a Jerusalem
When the man becomes a father
Inside a Jerusalem comes alive
Come on, brother.
Let a Jerusalem power come to your feet

(English translation of ‘Anneler ve Kudüsler’ by Nuri Pakdil) 

The author passed away in 2019 but his influence will remain present for generations. His beautiful words will be cherished for a very long time.