March 18, 2017

March 26 - The Day of Not Dying

(In Turkish dünya=world, ölmeme=not dying, günü=the day of.)
Ertesi gün için bir şey diyemem ama rakı içtiğin gün ölmezsin.”  Cemal Süreya
“Cannot say anything about the next day, but you don't die on the day you drink rakı.”  Cemal Süreya


In 1981, on March 26, a group of Turkish poets, led by Turgut Uyar and Edip Cansever (of the Second New fame) were drinking together with their friends at a restaurant on the Bosphorus, as was usual for many similar nights. One of the ladies at the table starts to talk about a needle lodged in her body, and how she lived with the fear of dying, the fear that the needle would travel to her heart.

Then Turgut Uyar orders a bottle of rakı, they all sign it and tell her, “keep this bottle, we'll all drink it together next year on this day.” They keep up the promise every year until Turgut Uyar himself passes away in August of 1986, when his friends stop the tradition.

March 26 has now become “the day of not dying,” a continuing tradition in certain circles in Turkey, a day to get together with friends, to drink, eat and talk about literature and poetry and of being alive, and to celebrate life. 

The Second New poetry, as well as the place of rakı in Turkish culture is too deep to go into here, but see hashtag
#ölmemegünü on twitter and on instagram,
or the spelling without the diacritical Turkish letters
#olmemegunu on twitter and on instagram.