SUE LITTLETON: Poems of Istanbul
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A note to the reader Editor's Note  
A note to the reader:
The Istanbul about which I wrote these poems is the Istanbul of a poet-tourist who became interested in the history of what was once the most magnificent Christian city in the world and then the seat of government for Suleiman the Magnificent, a contemporary of Henry VIII of England. Suleiman, to whom I have dedicated several poems, conquered Belgrade, Rhodes and most of Hungary before he was checked in the siege of Vienna by heavy rains that did not allow him to bring his heavy guns to bear on the city

Nor do I refer to the Istanbul described by the great Turkish novelist and winner of the Nobel Prize of Literature, Orhan Pamuk, in his autobiographical book Istanbul, Memories of a City, published in 2005. I had glimpses of that sad, monochrome remainder of the Istanbul that once was, the city that has been declining for the past 150 years, filled with ancient houses and abandoned buildings, crowded streets, modern passenger boats that cross from one side of the Bosporus to the other and from which the great mansions of the wealthy families can be seen lining the shores in tattered elegance. Especially outstanding is the Dolmabahçe Palace, where the great modern leader of Turkey, the “Ataturk,” spent much of his time.

My friend and I arrived in the month of January 1998, off season for tourists, and Constantinople-Istanbul opened its heart to us through the Turkish people whom we met and through our exploration of the old city, its mosques, its collection of incredible museums, and the vast grounds that compose the Topkapi Palace. The Topkapi is not really a palace; it is a huge walled area, filled with a series of buildings that were designed for various purposes, such as barracks for the Janissaries, the judgment chamber attached to the harem, the harem itself, the kitchens, the pavilion where the male children of the Sultan were imprisoned, the doctor's pharmacy, and many other structures, all enclosed on a high bluff overlooking the Bosporus.

History is measured in Istanbul by well over two thousand years, and I found myself intrigued and enchanted by this ancient city that continues to live with reminders of its incredible past at every turn.

THE POEMS OF ISTANBUL
Sue Littleton
POETRYREPAIRS 13.02:013
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Editor's note:
    The POEMS OF ISTANBUL
is a welcome ebook from the pen of SUE LITTLETON. To those who know her, this ebook is another joy of simplicity and understatement. The poems focus on a city of unbelieveable contrasts. When the city was Byzantium, the Greeks decorated it with the symbol of Athena, a crescent moon and star; latter Greeks made it the capital of the Roman Empire; and, as the Western Empire was overcome by marauding hordes and its "Roman" emperors retreated to Ravenna, Constantinople flourished and became the seat of the Easstern 'Orthodox' Churches symbolized by the Hagia Sofia (The Holy Wisdom). The Ottoman Turks, using heavy artillery, were able to breach the great walls during the mid-1400s; The conquerors took Athena's symbols as their own. The Turks called their empire 'Rum" (Rome) and ironically cut off Europe's acess to the East. A few years after the Ottoman success, Europeans took the first slaves off the African coast. The city lay between Europe and Asia but it is also a crossroad in time.

Nearly impossible to describe without superlatives, the city stands as a monument to Man's quest for Immortality - the city changes as its rulers change despite apparent change, the city continues in its own miraculous and mundane way. In it are some of the basest elements of human deprevations and some the the loftiest edifices created by mortal man. A Nineteenth-Century French utopian swocialist (Charles Fourier) argued that the city should be the capitol of the world. I thnk he was right, it should be.

But SUE LITTLETON sees the city as a tourist who falls in love with it. Indeed, these are 'love poems' to its creators, its citizens, and its history. I applaud LITTLETON for such a well turned series of poems.

I hope others will enjoy the poems as much as I enjoy them.

SUE LITTLETON: Poems of Istanbul
POETRYREPAIRS 13.02: 013
SUE LITTLETON: Poems of Istanbul

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