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The poet-essayist Nevzat Yalcin was born in Cyprus in 1926, received his higher education at the University of Ankara, taught English literature at a German gymnasium for many years, and is a man of world letters. His poems are deeply rooted in traditional Turkish literature (he is one of the few refined practitioners of the classical aruz prosody), although he has also gained recognition for his modernist poems written in free verse. For his contributions in Germany, he has received the Alfred Muller-Felsenburg Award (1989) and the Halver City Council Award (1996). Since the mid-1980s Yalcin has been concentrating on essays and has published two noteworthy collections (1988, 1991), mainly about his childhood and early youth in Cyprus.

Ucgen (Triangle) is a collection of fifty essays, all but one originally published in the bimonthly art magazine Milliyet Sanat Dergisi, one of Turkey's prime periodicals in the cultural and literary field. These short essays - each one scarcely longer than four pages - on cultural theory, social issues, literature (in Europe, Turkey, and Cyprus), the various arts, and related topics reveal an intellect that is sensitive and incisive. The titular "triangle" is, in fact, "the Western world, Turkey, and Cyprus," analyzed and often criticized by Yalcin. He is especially effective when he examines cultural metamorphosis. His approach is impressionistic. He seldom stumbles into judgmental pitfalls.

In all of these quintessential essays a luminous intellect is at work - always gracious even when forceful statements are made. Fairness and equilibrium prevail. Nevzat Yalcin is at once penetrating and constructive. His style is enchanting. Very few Turkish essayists of his generation possess his command of the Turkish language. He is a joy to read, possessed of a rich vocabulary, vivid rhythms, grace, and sensuousness.

Talat Sait Halman New York
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Author:Halman, Talat Sait
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1997
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