Jewish poet Roni Margulies died in Istanbul
Turkish Jewish writer and poet Roni Margulies died at the age of 68 on Wednesday in Istanbul. He had been receiving treatment for cancer.
One of his most renowned work is his book on Istanbul Jews, titled "Bugun pazar Yahudiler azar" [may be translated as 'Today's sunday, Jews run wild']. Based on personal memories, the book tells about the daily life of Jews in Istanbul between 1950-70.
"This book is not about Jews, or about being a Jew, not on Israel or Zionism, it's about Jews of Istanbul," he said in his preface to the book. "There'll be times though when I'll slightly mention about those other things, when it's inevitable. But this is it. My intention was not writing a book with political, theological or a socioeconomic content, or a memoir."
On the last page of the book, he wrote under a photo of his grand parents during a picnic in 1930s at the largest island of Istanbul's Princes' Islands:
"Bugun pazar, Yahudiler azar! I think the correct version of this expression is actually 'Today's sunday, heretics run wild.' It's origin must be linked to the Christians' day of worship, and sunday does not have a particular significance for the Jews. I'm not sure why, but I seem to have it in my memory as 'Jews run wild.'"
The expression had become popular among the early generations of the Turkish republic, and was a strongly discriminative one used in disdain of non-Muslim communities.
Margulies had won the prestigious Yunus Nadi Award with his poetry book titled "Saat Farki" ("Time Difference").
His translations from poets, including Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Thom Gunn and Yehuda Amichai, have been published since 1975 in literature magazines like Soyut, Gosteri, Defter, Adam Sanat, Varlik.
He was a member of the Trotskyist Revolutionary Socialist Workers' Party (DSIP).
Margulies had attended English-medium highschool Robert College in Istanbul and moved to London in early 1970s to study economics. He had lived mostly in London from that point on, although he had spent an increasing amount of time in Istanbul in recent years.