* 20.01.1902, Salonica, Turquía † 03.06.1963, Moscow, Rusia
Nâzim Hikmet was born 1902 in Salonica. After graduating from Naval School, he was appointed as a training naval officer but was discharged in 1920 due to a medical condition. He went to Anatolia to join the War of Independence in 1921, but was not sent to the frontline. After teaching in Bolu, he went to Moscow, where he attended the Eastern Workers Communist University. He returned to Turkey in 1924. He began writing poetry in 1914, and his first poem “Hâlâ Servilerde Ağlıyorlar mı” (“Are They Still Crying in the Cypresses?”) was published in 1918 under the pen name of Mehmed Nâzım.
Inspired by the Russian futurists and constructivists he met in Moscow, he began to develop a new language and form of poetry, liberated of classical poetic forms. He returned to Moscow in 1925. Upon his return to Turkey in 1928 he was detained for political reasons. His first book of poetry, Güneşi İçenlerin Türküsü (The Ballad of Those Who Drink the Sun), was published in 1928 in Baku, Azerbaijan. 835 Satır (835 Lines, 1929) met with wide interest in literary circles. Gradually, he developed a poetic language that was less experimental in form without being completely classical: His poems illustrate how both folk poetry and Eastern poetry can be used without compromising contemporary poetry.
He was detained again in 1933 under suspicion of illegal activities, but all cases against him were dropped after the amnesty proclaimed for the 10th year of the Republic. Detained in 1936 for provoking communism and acquitted in 1937, he was finally sentenced to a total of 28 years of imprisonment in 1938 for “provoking the army and navy to revolt.”
After the Amnesty Law of 14 July, 1950 took effect, he was released from prison. Although he was not legally obligated, he was called for military service, which he considered a threat on his life. He left Istanbul in 1951 and went to Moscow. His Turkish citizenship was cancelled
by a decision of the Council of Ministers the same year. Until his death in 1963, he travelled to many countries, giving conferences and reading his poems.
His writings, including articles, novels, stories, and translations, were banned in Turkey from 1938 to 1965. Since 1965 many editions have been published of his “complete works.” Nâzım Hikmet was both a great poet and a much politicized figure. In his poetry the two main themes of socialist realist literature frequently occur: hope and the future.