RENOWNED TURKISH POET ÂŞIK VEYSEL CELEBRATED THROUGHOUT THE YEAR IN UNESCO 2023 COMMEMORATION PROGRAM
The great poet Âşık Veysel has been included in UNESCO’s 2023 commemoration program. Veysel, who died fifty years ago, is considered among the most important representatives of Türkiye’s Ashik (Minstrel) tradition, a cultural value of the country. The fiftieth anniversary of Âşık Veysel’s death will be commemorated with events in Türkiye and abroad.
Anatolian ashik, a versatile art blending improvisational poetry and music, has been practiced in Anatolia for more than five hundred years and is an important expression of cultural memory and richness in Türkiye. The world-class folk poet Âşık Veysel (Şatıroğlu) is among the most renowned of these folk artists and, even after his death, his artistry continues to illuminate humanity and future generations through plainly composed verses filled with messages of tolerance, love and patriotism.
With the decision taken at the 41st General Conference held in Paris, UNESCO included Âşık Veysel in its celebration of anniversaries in 2022-2023, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the poet’s death. Within the scope of the program, Âşık Veysel will be commemorated throughout the year with events such as meetings, exhibitions and concerts held both in Türkiye and abroad.
Âşık Veysel: The Last Great Representative of the Ashik Tradition
Born in 1894, in the village of Sivrialan in the Sivas’ Şarkışla district, Âşık Veysel lost both his eyes at the age of seven years, due to smallpox. He started playing the saz (a plucked string instrument used in Turkish folk music) when he was ten years old and in 1933 began traveling across Türkiye as a performer, sometimes also teaching saz.
Âşık Veysel’s poems, which build a bridge between the public and the intellectuals, cover a variety of themes. Although his singing was influenced by the Turkish Sufi poet Yunus – and there are traces of Sufism in Veysel’s compositions, Veysel is also considered a successor to another great Turkish poet, Karacaoğlan, particularly with regard to his love poems.
Âşık Veysel’s first poem was an epic he sang for Atatürk on the 10th anniversary of the Republic. His first volume of poetry was Deyişler, published in 1944 and his last was Dostlar Beni Hatırlasın (1970), in which he brought all his poems together. Other poems were collected in an earlier volume, Sazımdan Sesler, published in 1949.
Âşık Veysel will always be remembered as one who embraces and strives to understand and make sense of humans and life. He is still evoked today as an important folk poet who bestowed precious verses on the love of nature and philanthropy, friendship, unity and solidarity to future generations.
The Museum House in Sivas Accommodates Visitors with Disabilities
Âşık Veysel died on March 21, 1973, in Sivrialan, the village where he was born. His home was converted into a museum after his death and its contents preserved. In the Museum, renovated in 2012 through an international project, Veysel’s bed and radio, as well as many of the poet’s clothes and personal belongings, are displayed. Visitors can also listen to recordings of various television interviews with the poet-singer.
Within the scope of the European Union (EU), Türkiye Intercultural Dialogue and Museums Grant Programme, the Inter-Museum Cultural Alliance Project conducted by the Sivas Museum Directorate, the ‘dark room’ in the renovated space has also included the phrase “Uzun ince bir yoldayım (I’m on a long and narrow road)” written in Braille for the visually impaired. A statue of Âşık Veysel is also placed in this room.
The Museum also features never-before-seen radio and television recordings of the great poet, as well as a documentary specially prepared for the hearing impaired, with English subtitles.