Cover by Omer Kursat

Keep the Change
(Two Seas Volume III)
Selected Poems from the Turkish Second New

by Cemal Süreya, Turgut Uyar & İlhan Berk
Edited & Translated by Omer Kursat

ISBN 978-0983504184, October 23, 2018
Softcover, 52 pages, 7 x 10 in.

Second New is a conceptual poetry movement that emerged in Turkey in the 1950s and continued into the 70s. It is conceptual in the sense that the poetry was developed independently without any manifesto, rules or guidelines and the name “Second New” was coined afterwards, but in principle the works shared an avant-garde style with characteristics described as personal, obscure and abstract. The core poets, in no particular order, are İlhan Berk, Turgut Uyar, Edip Cansever, Cemal Süreya, Ece Ayhan, Ülkü Tamer and Sezai Karakoç. 

Keep the Change is a short collection of selected poems for only three of the poets, Cemal Süreya, Turgut Uyar and İlhan Berk, as a tiny slice of the poems of the Second New; nevertheless, it is representative of the style and stands as a complete piece of derivative work while staying close to the originals.

Lexical shock renews weary language bones. It is good to drink Turkish coffee in the pampas of the American Midwest.

— Willis Barnstone, from “An ABC of Translating Poetry”

Cemal Süreya
(1931 –1990)

Source: Anonymous

Turgut Uyar

Source: Anonymous

İlhan Berk

Source: Anonymous

Reading just one poem was an epiphany—a sudden reveal into existence, an insight into my own soul,
a reflection of a multitude of past and present sentiments.

– Omer Kursat, from the Introduction, Keep the Change

Yet a cup of water was enough to wet your hair
We’d get full on a slice of bread and an olive or two
If I kissed you once two felt hurt
If I tried to kiss you twice three felt upset 

—  from LOVE (AŞK by Cemal Süreya)

The works of the Second New poets spoke of life with exceptional resonance and captivated me with their timelessness and intercultural relevance despite having originated over fifty years ago halfway across the world. After being absorbed in the poetry for many nights while sipping rakı in the Aegean and the Hawaiian moonlight, I felt compelled to share the works.

– Omer Kursat, from the Introduction, Keep the Change



I am dying dear God
This too happened.

Every death is an early death
I know dear God.

But yet, this life you take
Is not so bad…

Keep the change…



Birds ascend from Hagia Irene
A stalk of grass behind their ears.

I tell myself that I am here finally
Here at this place, intersecting with an old atlas.

A cat is gazing into your eyes
And the sky further below, as low as it can be.

And a woman trying to cross the street
I think of you and her incredibly thin neck that I do not see.

Peddlers, soldiers, knife sharpeners pass in front of me
And the sulky laborers of our world.

A voice says we are on the same peninsula
And vanishes down an old street of Pera.

I tread an old street of Pera like this every night
Every night with your mud on my soles.


İLKİN ~ T. Uyar

no one spoke it, perhaps only contemplated
because it exists in one’s life
exists like sleep and anger
no one spoke it
like the sun setting
in salty seas
I missed it too
even though my eyes
are in search of stains all day
I missed it, but one can say that
apart from the entire history of poetry
apart from all values plus or minus
apart from all things previously explained
as in the summer of the hottest countries
in the winter of all colds
I burn I get cold I feel awful
I am of no use
but I still love you
so then, love me too

someone opens the window and suddenly shouts
o life, you too exist
just like death

—  from US NOW (ŞİMDİ BİZ by Turgut Uyar)

I said if it was spring
upon seeing the basil bloom suddenly
an undeniable eternity
hand in hand with heartbreaking feelings 

winter of course
or so
or fall

ask that to lovers

but if you ask me
it’s like the summer sweat on a child
that dries and fades away

—  IS IT SPRING (İLKYAZ MI by Turgut Uyar)


TEK YASAK ~ C. Süreya

Dying is banned
On the day freedom comes!

Images from the launch event held at da Shop: books + curiosities