Gulsum Cengiz Biography

Gulsum Cengiz

Turkish poet and writer.
She was born in 1949 in Isparta. She received her education in Istanbul Teacher’s School. She worked as a teacher from 1966 until 1980 in Balikesir and in Istanbul. In 1980 she started to work as a redacteur, editor, director and publishing coordinator in multiple publishing houses. She also has worked as a columnist in some daily newspapers, such as Cumhuriyet, Emek and Evrensel. She has also prepared and presented some radio and television programmes on TRT 2 and HAYAT TV. She worked as a lecturer at the Comparative Literature Department at Osmangazi University for 11 years.
She started to write poetry in 1970 and published her first poetry book ''September Sayings'' in 1987. Later she wrote poems and also many stories and novels for children and young adults. She also writes plays, essays and articles. She has written in a variety of genres and she has more than one hundred published works. 28 of them have been translated into 9 different languages. She currently works and lives in İstanbul.

Poetry Books:
Eylül Deyişleri (September Sayings) 1987,
Sevdamız Çiçeklenir Zulada (Our Love Flowers in a Secret Pocket) 1990,
Mayısta Üzgün Gönlüm (My Heart Feels Sorrow in May) 1993,
Akdenizin Rengi Mavi (Blue is the Color of the Mediterranean) 1997.
Silinsin Diye Yeryüzünden Savaş Sözcüğü, Turkish-English (So as to Wipe the Word “War” From the face of the Earth, 2010)
Yasak Sevda Sözcükleri (Forbidden Words of Love) 2013
Selam Yaratana; The Labour poems with Eray Canberk 2000-2001.
Kadınlar İçin Söylenmiştir (Told For Women- The 6000-year History of Women with Poetry in Anatolia) 2011.
Makas Kesmez İğne Dikmez Olmasa Ellerimiz (Had Our Hands been Unable to Cut or Sew) 1997, Hepimiz Çevreciyiz (We are All Environmentalists) 1997, Yaşamın İzindeki Kadınlar (Women in Search of Life) 2007.
Memory: Kuzguncuk; the Happy Child on the Bosphorus-2009.
Biographies: Hans Christian Andersen-2008, Nasrettin Hoca-2008 and etc. And also she has many Children’s Books.

Translated Books and Poems:
“Days of Ayşe”, a youth novel, has been translated in to German as “Katzen washt man nicht”; and has been published in Switzerland (Nagel und Kimche) and Austria (Gabriel Verlag) in 1997. Days of Ayşe was translated into Arabic and published in Syria by Dar ül Haris Publishing house in 2010; into Russian and published in Russia by Krug Publishinghouse in 2010; into Serbian and Croatian by Bay Publishing in Kosovo in 2014; into Albanian and published by Bay Publishing in Kosovo in 2016. Also her other books were translated into and published in Persian, Azerbaijani, Italian and English.
Twenty-two of her books for children have been translated into German and have been published in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
Poetry books for adults; Silinsin Diye Yeryüzünden Savaş Sözcüğü, Turkish-English (So as to Wipe the Word War From the Face of The Earth) in Turkey- 2010, Die Farbe des Mittelmeeres (selected poems) in Germany-2012, Forbidden Love Words- Lessico Proibito d'Amore, in Italy-2017.
Also some of her poems have been translated into English, German, Greek, Hebrew, Romanian, Kurdish, Azerbaijani, Arabic, Russian, French, Korean, Flemish, Italian and Spanish. They have also been published in literary magazines and anthologies in different countries. Some of them are; Literatures in English, Pen International, Anthology of Our Voices- by INTERNATIONAL PEN WOMEN WRITERS’ COMMITTEE, PROPOSIA- by ARAWLII, The Second Genesis: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry, "Lirica Turc'a la Bucuresti" an anthology, “İnserare Pe Bosfor”, Ovidius Festival's Book, Anthologie de poesies Turques, ASIA literary magazine etc.

(1979) Poetry, İYG 3. Poetry and Politics Newspaper - Special Award
Poetry, Yeni Turku Publishing house -1986
Children’s book, Who Will be the King of the Birds? Sıtkı Dost Prize, 1990
Children’s story, The Diary of a Cat, The Association Turkish Publishers – 1990
Play, Had Our Hands been Unable to Cut or Sew, TOBAV and Çankaya Municipality as 1. - 1991
Poem, Troya Poem Award -1995
Youth novel, Days of Ayşe- Katzen Wascht Man Nicht – Fallt aus dem Rahmen by ESELSOHR in Mainz in Germany – 1997
Play, Women in Search of Life- The Prize of Language Association Kerim Afşar- 2005.
Poem- Prize of Poetess Mahsati Gencavi- Azerbaijan-2010
Anthologie-searching; Told For Women- The 6000 years old History of Women with Poetry in Anatolia) The Prize of Science Literature of Oğuz Tansel 2012
Poem, 4. Poetry Days in Manisa - NİOBE Prize in 2017.

There were many theses and studies written about her works and identity as a writer.

A SYMPOSIUM ABOUT GÜLSÜM CENGİZ ON CHİLDREN AND YOUTH LİTERATURE was ORGANİSED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF COMPARATİVE LİTERATURE AT OSMANGAZİ UNİVERSİTY and took place between 28-30 April 2010 in Eskisehir; and the papers were published as a book in 2011; On The Wind of Poetry, On The Wings of The Phoenix.

Two libraries were opened in her name in the TYS Agenda in Antakya and in the Aalen Culture and Foundation in January 2017. Another library was opened in her name in Milas-Ören by the Municipality of Milas in September 2017. Her private archive is in the Library of Women Authors.

Her philosophy of art

Gülsüm Cengiz is an artist who shapes her work depending on the holism of life. What underlies the theme and form of her works in different areas is her understanding of art and her world view. She is a writer following the notion of social realism. She believes in the idea that art is functional and that the artist has responsibilities for the society and the age. At the same time, she deals with mankind, a very important component of life, in terms of his social relationships and individual problems. However, she especially tries to reflect what the silent and oppressed women who are seen as second rate citizens have experienced. The other social groups which she deals with in her works are children, and workers as well. In 1998 she was sentenced to two years of imprisonment because of one sentence in her article about human rights in Gunluk Emek newspaper. However, her punishment was cancelled on the condition that she shouldn’t commit the same crime for five years.
She is a member of the Turkish Writers’ Syndicate, the Association of Literateurs, the Association of Playwrights and Turkish PEN Centre. Moreover, she has worked for the organizations of writers as a member. In 1992, she worked together with Aziz Nesin at the publishing committee of the Turkish Writers Syndicate; in 1993 and between the years 1999-2005 she became the Secretary General of the Turkish Writers’ Syndicate. She worked as a member of the Writers for Peace Committee in Turkey Pen Center from 2005 to 2007.