Lale Müldür: How many people am I?

HAKAN ARSLANBENZER
ISTANBUL
Published
Lale Müldür: How many people am I?

In limbo between genius and insanity, like many other poets throughout history, Lale Müldür is a naive soul and an accomplished wordsmith, loaded with culture and information

You can ask me some questions now," Lale Müldür said in a press interview, "But I need to be one person to answer these questions. But I am not. How many people am I?" Is it real, or does she play with words? You cannot be sure since the one talking is a poet known mostly for giving peculiar names to objects and people, as well.

Many people think that Müldür is a genius. However, some people who know her believe she hovers closer to insanity, the destiny of Turkish poets for centuries. Some believe in your genius, while others treat you as if you are crazy.

To me, Lale Müldür suffers from being unique in a peculiar social environment. In fact, she has had some difficulties, which doctors have diagnosed as mental illnesses. Yet, she is always smart and full of humor. Whatever her mental condition is, many would agree that Lale Müldür is one of the most talented poets of the 1980s.

Life

Lale Müldür was born in Aydın in 1956. Though I met her personally and read all her poems, essays and interviews, I could not get much information about her family and childhood. She keeps saying that she has simply forgotten it. "I don't remember whether I was a good child for my parents or not," she said, "Because I cannot recollect my relationship with my father and mother. I know nothing about my childhood."

However, it is certain that they moved to Teşvikiye, a wealthy district of Istanbul, when Lale was 5 years old. Her parents were not rich, yet they lived near the wealthy. Kemal Müldür, her father, was a math teacher who later worked as a lecturer at Istanbul Technical University. Müzeyyen Müldür, her mother, was a knitting teacher, who later ran a boutique in the Levent district of Istanbul. Lale's brother, Uğur Müldür, is the general director of science and new technologies for the European Commission.

Lale first attended Teşvikiye Nilüfer Hatun elementary school, where she was a good friend of Deniz Bilgin, the late painter who committed suicide.

Müldür graduated from Robert College before she moved to Florence with a poetry scholarship. After her return, she studied electric and electronic engineering and economics, each for a year, in Middle East Technical University in Ankara. She was a friend of Osman Kavala and Yıldırım Türker, famous Turkish liberals.

After two years in Ankara, she moved to the United Kingdom to study economics. She received a bachelor's degree in economics from Manchester University and a master's degree in the sociology of literature from Essex University.

Müldür married Patrick Jacquart, a Belgian painter, and moved to Brussels in 1983. In 1986, she left Brussels and returned to Istanbul. Today, she lives in Cihangir, Istanbul's neighborhood famous for its intellectuals and cats.

Robert College: Raising a modernist

It seems Robert College is where Lale Müldür got her first impressions of modern poetry. She read T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound for the first time when she was a student there, which is also known for its Nobel laureate graduate Orhan Pamuk. Robert College has many other famous graduates, including the late Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, the first and only female prime minister of Turkey, Tansu Çiller, multi-billionaires Rahmi Koç and Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, the late singer Cem Karaca and writers Halide Edip, Ülkü Tamer, Tomris Uyar, Ayşe Kulin, Pınar Kür, Halikarnas Balıkçısı, Levent Sunal and Efe Murad.

Mystery, mind games and imagism

Müldür's early poems were published in literary magazines such as "Yazı" (Writing) and "Yeni İnsan" (New Human) in 1980. Later, she published many other poems in well-known literary journals of the 1980s. She became famous thanks to her surprising and mystical poems, though she personally did not show up in literary circles much. She is good at one-on-one relationships and has never been an overly social person.

Some of Lale Müldür poems were interpreted into popular music. Yeni Türkü's (New Folk Song) most famous song "Destina" is a mysterious poem by Müldür.

Last night, while you were asleep

I whispered your name

And told you the awful stories

Of animals

Mystery, mind games and imagism have determined the path of Müldür as a poet. She has always created unique connections between irrelevant things. She also talks like the persona in her poems. She can make friends with a wild deer or a plush bunny she found in the street.

Lale Müldür is the most naive person I have ever met. Once, she told me that she loved the jersey I was wearing, which was a carpet design jersey I bought from a $1 shop somewhere, and asked whether I bought it from a Paris boutique. That was a real shock for me. A $1 jersey from a Paris boutique?

Müldür is a very creative and productive poet. She can write faster than she speaks. Her speech is soft and kind, and she is always kind to people. However, some of her friends left her because of her naivety. Sometimes she makes things harder for herself and others who love her.

Lale Müldür wrote a column for Radikal daily newspaper for a few years in the 2000s. A selection of her poetry was translated into English and published in Dublin, Ireland under the title "Water Music" in 1998. Another selection of her poems was translated into French and published in 2002. The 13th Istanbul Biennial was named after her volume of essays, "Anne Ben Barbar Mıyım?" (Mom, Am I a Barbarian?).

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