The Poetry of Turkish Village Institute-Educated Poets: Social Commentary on a Developing Nation

Open Access
Zabitgil, Ozlem
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 11, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Melody M Thompson, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Melody M Thompson, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • John Daniel Marshall, Committee Member
  • Patricia M Hinchey, Committee Member
  • Ladislaus M Semali, Committee Member
  • "Turkish Village Institutes" "Poetry"
The purpose of the study was to reach a close understanding of villagers’ experience of change in the changing context of the Turkish Republic. The poetry books of two renowned literary figures Mehmet Basaran and Talip Apaydin were studied to investigate villagers’ reactions and responses to various national changes. The literary work of these poets provided a glimpse into the experiences of both the poets and the villagers, and their communities’ reactions, with respect to continuing national changes. These poets not only came from the same cultural village background as the villagers, but had also been educated through the Turkish Village Institutes (TVI) literacy campaign. They experienced the changes first-hand and moved into new roles as a result of their TVI education. Their poetry was analyzed using the theoretical/methodological frameworks of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). The analysis was complemented by a systematic coding process to elicit emerging themes and patterns from the data; this process entailed deciphering the linguistic properties of the text/discourse, as well as the various author/speaker choices employed in the production of the poetic discourse. The analysis placed the poetic discourse in its various social, educational and political contexts to better understand its meaning. Four final themes emerged from my analysis of the poetry data: (a) indifference of others to the problems of villagers; (b) a strong call to bring about a better and more just world; (c) feelings of homesickness; and (d) the power of art, especially poetry, as a means of critical analysis. These findings indicated that social changes only partially touched the lives of those in the countryside and barely influenced the social relationships or the living standards in the countryside. The poems called for the taking of individual responsibility and working collectively to create a more equitable nation for future generations. Several poems also described instances of emotional turmoil due to feelings of homesickness. These feelings referred to the TVI-educated poets’ homesickness due to seeking careers in cities away from their family and village cultures, in addition to the homesickness of some members of the village communities who had to work far away for the survival of their families. The fourth theme indicated poetry’s power in effectively voicing village realities to a larger audience and envisioning a better future through its creative expression. In conclusion, poetry discourse is a living testament to the experiences, hopes and goals of the TVI-educated poets and the village communities they came from.