Dağlarca, Fazıl Hüsnü (b. August 26 1914, Istanbul - d. October 15, 2008, Istanbul), real name MEHMET FAZIL, poet who received the Vehbi Koç Award for culture in 2005. He is one of the leading names in contemporary Turkish poetry, following his own original path rather than identifying with any particular movement in Turkish literature. His book Çocuk ve Allah (1940; The Child and God) is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Turkish literature.
After graduating from Kuleli Military High School in 1933 and the Military Academy in 1935, Dağlarca joined the army as an infantry officer. He served in various parts of Anatolia and Thrace and left the army of his own accord in 1950. He worked for a time as a labor inspector and retired in 1959, opening a bookshop called “Kitap” (“Book”) in Aksaray, Istanbul. Between January 1960 and July 1964, along with friends he published a monthly magazine, Türkçe (Turkish), with the aim of defending the purification of the language. After shutting down his bookshop in 1970, he focused exclusively on poetry.
Dağlarca’s first work, Havaya Çizilen Dünya (1935; The World Drawn in the Air), employed unique approaches previously unseen in Turkish poetry. In his later publication, Çocuk ve Allah (The Child and God), he achieved a greater finesse with regard to the integrity of language and structure. In Çakır'ın Destanı (1945; The Epic of Çakır) and Taş Devri (1945; The Stone Age), he continued along the same path, creating a language perfectly suited to the spirit of the poetry.
With Üç Şehitler Destanı (1949; The Epic of the Three Martyrs), Dağlarca entered a period of transition in his poetry, beginning to tackle humanistic relationships in nature. Following works such as Toprak Ana (1950; Mother Earth), Aç Yazı (1951; Hungry Writing), Sivaslı Karınca (1951; The Ant from Sivas), İstanbul Fetih Destanı (1953; The Epic of the Conquest of Istanbul), and Anıtkabir (1953), Dağlarca wrote Asu, which heralded a new era in his poetry. He also participated in the debate surrounding the purification of the language during this period and employed a linguistic approach in his poems.
After publishing Açıl Susam Açıl (1967; Open Sesame!), his collection of poems for children, he focused more on children’s poetry. Seeking to create a guileless sentimentality, this work encompassed themes such as the joy of living and the longing for union with the earth.
Due to his powerful use of language and imagery and the sincerity of his expression, Dağlarca’s style has earned him a special place in contemporary Turkish poetry. In his thematically rich poems, he has always placed children center stage, using a child’s perception of the world to tackle life’s most important questions, as well as the relationships of humans and the natural world. In one of his last books, Yapıtlarımla Konuşmalar (1999-2000, 2 vols; Conversations with my Works), he adopted a new approach to the discussion of his works.
Many of Dağlarca’s works have won awards; in 1967, he was voted “Greatest Living Turkish Poet” by the International Poetry Forum in Pittsburgh, USA, and in 1974 he was chosen as “Artist of the Year” by Milliyet Art Magazine. His work Horoz (1963; Cockerel) was awarded the 1977 Sedat Simavi Foundation Literature Award, which he shared with Peride Celal. In 1991, he declined the title of “State Artist” bestowed upon him by the Ministry of Culture.
In 2005, Dağlarca received the Vehbi Koç Award for culture and said in his acceptance speech: “The Vehbi Koç Award that I have received is a profound prize, to use a contemporary expression. By awarding prizes, literary institutions express ‘the usual affection’. But this prize expresses an unusual affection. Through his philanthropic efforts and hard work over the years, Vehbi Koç became a true force. This is a demonstration of a businessman’s respect for hard work. I wasn’t close to Vehbi Koç myself, but he made me happy on at least two occasions. It’s lovely to receive an award, but it’s even better when that award comes from hard work. Now, it’s as if this is the only prize I’ve ever won. I know that the Vehbi Koç Award comes from the heart, and that is why it’s different to the others...”
Dağlarca’s poetry has been translated into a number of languages, primarily English and French.