Rumi was a Persian poet and Sufi mystic whose spiritual legacy has been attracting praises for the past 800 years! Often described as the best-selling and most popular poet in the US, Rumi's poems are widely read today in many countries. His poetry has influenced the literary traditions of many languages, such as Pashto, Urdu, Chagatai, and Ottoman Turkish.
Ali Kemal was a Turkish journalist, poet, newspaper editor, government official, and liberal-leaning politician. He is best remembered for his brief service as the Minister of the Interior of the Ottoman Empire in 1919. During the Turkish War of Independence, Ali Kemal was assassinated by paramilitary officers.
Turkish folk poet and Sufi mystic Yunus Emre has been depicted in Turkish folklore as a man who sat at the feet of his master, Tapduk Emre, for 40 years. His poems are mostly about divine love and destiny. The Turkish historical drama Yunus Emre: Askin Yolculugu was based on his life.
The 16th prime minister of Turkey, Bülent Ecevit had held the post for 4 terms. He had led both the Democratic Left Party and the Republican People's Party and is remembered as the only left-wing prime minister that Turkey ever had. He was also a journalist and a talented poet and author.
Known to fans as the Pasha of Music, Turkish singer, songwriter, and composer Zeki Müren was a legendary figure of Turkish classical music. He also acted in several films, such as the blockbuster Beklenen Şarkı. His track Manolyam was the first song to win Turkey’s prestigious Golden Record Award.
Turkish intellectual, sociologist, and author Mehmed Ziya, better known by his pseudonym, Ziya Gökalp, was a main figure of the Turkish nationalist movement. Though initially educated as a vet, he later quit his studies to focus on politics. His writings include The Principles of Turkism. He was apparently highly influenced by Sufism.
Turkish poet, scholar, mystic, and miniature painter Ali-Shir Nava'I was a major figure of Chagatai literature. He was also interested in music, architecture, and calligraphy, and donated huge sums for much of constructions of his city. His best-known works include Muhakamat al-Lughatayn and Majālis-i nefaʾīs.
Turkish author, poet, political essayist, and social reformer Namık Kemal motivated the Young Turk and Turkish nationalist movements. He not only westernized Turkish literature but also contributed to Romanticism. One of his best-known works was the play Vatan Yahut Silistre. He also promoted the ideas of vatan, or fatherland, and hürriyet, or freedom.
Ottoman metaphysical poet and mystic Sheikh Galip, who was also known as Mehmed Esad, was taught by Hodja Neş'et. Known for his poetic works such as Divan and Hüsn ü Aşk, he was known for his use of abstraction and his own vocabulary. He also opposed the prosaic style of poet Nabi.
Turkish-born French poet André de Chénier is considered one of the greatest 18th-century French poets. Considered as an inspiration for the Romantic movement, he also worked as a political journalist. His political criticism got him guillotined during the French Revolution, on the orders of Maximilien Robespierre.
Greek choral lyric poet of the 7th century, Alcman originated from Sparta. Six papyrus rolls of his works survived, of which the longest was Partheneion, which was found in Egypt. Some scholars believe he was from Sardis in Lydia. He is also considered as one of the Nine Lyric Poets of ancient Greece.
Turkish singer-poet and bard Neşet Ertaş, who specialized in traditional and folk music, was also skilled in playing the bağlama. The son of Turkish folk poet and singer Muharrem Ertaş, he followed in his father’s footsteps. He had also taught music in Germany and was named UNESCO’s National Living Human Treasure.
Turkish author and poet Aşık Paşa was a major figure in Turkish literature. Apparently, he was born into an affluent family and was a mystic leader and a dedicated Sufi follower. His best-known work is the poem Gharībnāmeh, which was written in 11,000 rhymed couplets. He also penned Faqrnāmeh.
Byzantine poet and scholar of the 12th century, John Tzetzes is best known for his works that provide information on ancient Greek literature. Initially a secretary of a provincial governor, he later penned iconic works such as Chiliades, or the Book of Histories, and Allegoriai.
Şeyhî was a Turkish physician and poet. He is best remembered for making immense contribution to the progression of Divan literature. One of the most important poets of his time, Şeyhî is also credited with influencing many other poets of future generations. Also a prominent physician, Şeyhî served as Ottoman Sultan Koca Murat's private physician.
Known for his innovative style, Turkish poet Orhan Veli Kanık co-founded the Garip movement. While he initially wrote traditional poems under the pseudonym Mehmed Ali Sel, he later broke away from all literary traditions of Turkey. He introduced colloquial Turkish vocabulary and folk poetry in Turkish literature.
Ottoman dervish poet Gül Baba arrived in Hungary during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. There are many legends about his life. Some scholars believe his real name was Kel Baba, meaning Bald Father. His tomb, located in Buda, later became a Muslim pilgrimage.
Greek elegiac poet from the 7th century BC, Mimnermus is remembered for his historical epic Smyrneis. He also penned quite a few elegies addressed to a flute girl named Nanno and included erotic themes in his works. He also wrote about events such as solar eclipses.
Turkish Alevi ashik, or bard, Âşık Veysel is one of the greatest figures of Turkish folk literature. Blinded as a child because of smallpox, he learned music by playing a saz his father gave him. He later traveled on foot and taught music in various villages.
Zülfü Livaneli is a Turkish poet, musician, film director, politician, and author. He is best known for writing an international best selling novel titled Bliss, which was adapted into a critically acclaimed film of the same name. Also renowned for his political and cultural activities, Zülfü Livaneli was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to UNESCO in 1995.
Nicander was a Greek poet, grammarian, and physician. He is best remembered for his hexameter poem Theriaca, which talks about the nature of venomous animals. His other extant poem Alexipharmaca talks about different types of poisons and their antidotes. Nicander's works were used by other prominent poets like Ovid and Lucan.
Turkish author and playwright İbrahim Şinasi was a pioneer of the Ottoman play and was one of the first Ottoman writers to simplify and modernize the language of Turkish literature and use Western stylistic aspects. He founded the newspaper Tasvir-i Efkâr. Şair Evlenmesi remains his best-known work.
Remembered as the founder of Turkey’s modern school of poetry, Ottoman-Turkish poet Tevfik Fikret had also been a school principal and teacher. He initially published the works of many European authors. He also supported free speech and was against the dictatorial Ottoman governance. Rübbab-i Shikeste is one of his best-known works.
Greek grammarian and Homeric scholar Zenodotus of Ephesus served as the first superintendent of the Library of Alexandria. He is also said to have penned the first critical edition of Homer. He was also a student of Greek scholar and poet Philitas of Cos. He also edited Hesiod’s Theogony.
Halit Ziya Uşaklıgil was a Turkish poet, playwright, and author. He is best remembered for his 1899 novel Aşk-ı Memnu, which has been adapted into a TV series of the same name. Halid Ziya Uşaklıgil is credited with founding numerous literary movements and institutions, including his avant-garde journal Servet-i Fünun.
Ibn Kemal was an Ottoman historian, poet, jurist, and scholar of the Islamic sciences. A respected scholar, Kemal was commissioned to write an Ottoman history by the eighth Sultan of the Ottoman Empire Bayezid II; he titled his work 'The Chronicles of the House of Osman.' During Suleiman I's reign, Kemal was appointed as the supreme head of the ulama.
Greek bucolic poet Bion of Smyrna lived in the 2nd century BC. Only 17 fragments of his Bucolica survive. He is also said to have written Lament for Adonis, whjich consists of around 100 hexameters. A mythological poem on Adonis and Aphrodite, named Epitaph of Adonis, too, is attributed to him.
Gnomic poet Phocylides belonged to the ancient Greek city of Miletus. He is known for his signature hexametric aphorisms, which almost always begin with the phrase “This too is Phocylides.” He is also remembered for his criticism of affluent people and their pompous ways through his works.
Necati Cumalı was a Greek-born Turkish short-story writer, novelist, poet, and essayist. One of his well-known works Dry Summer was adapted into a film of the same name in 1964 by film director Metin Erksan. Many of Necati Cumalı's poems have also been translated into French and German languages.
Recaizade Mahmud Ekrem was an Ottoman writer, civil servant, intellectual, and literary critic. Counted among the most influential writers of his time, Ekrem dealt in detail with European literary theories and mainly wrote dramas, poems, and novels. Recaizade Mahmud Ekrem is also credited with founding a popular magazine named Servet-i Fünûn.
Byzantine poet John Geometres was initially a commander of the guards at the Byzantine court and later became a priest. A prominent literary figure of the Macedonian Renaissance, he mostly wrote on politics and religion. He also penned countless epigrams and hymns dedicated to the Virgin Mary.