Nazim Hikmet’s “Letters From A Man In Solitary”

Prison ruin in Turkey
Prison ruin in Turkey

Nazim Hikmet was a Turkish poet, novelist, and playwright whose poems are considered to be some of the most powerful statements of the twentieth century. After serving several shorter prison terms, Hikmet was finally sentenced, in 1938, to twenty-eight years in Bursa Prison for his “Communist writings,” a verdict handed down not through the regular Turkish civil courts (who didn’t have the grounds to convict him) but through secret proceedings in the National Security Courts (a strange parallel to our current military courts for enemy combatants). In 1950, Hikmet was released early due to worldwide pressure and the announcement he would receive an International Peace Prize (along with painter Pablo Picasso and Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda). Hikmet fled into exile after 12 years “inside” and settled in Moscow, where he died in 1963.

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