“The purpose / of this book,” writes Andrew Wessels in his graceful and moving debut collection, “is to explain / the vagaries of a poet.” Fashioning an arabesque from apologia, A Turkish Dictionary may be read as a work of translation theory, a historical travel guide to where East merges with West, a philosophical investigation, a love letter “from A to Z,” and an indefinite lexicon wherein “the cloud of word is cloud.” The bewildered literary cosmopolitan who speaks through these poems finds forms of dwelling where others would see only transition–“halfway down / the broken / staircase wandered / through”–and, in the process, Wessels acknowledges the longing at the heart of all belonging. In the end, A Turkish Dictionary renews our sense of the inexhaustible possibilities within all language, or, as the poet himself writes, “the prayer itself a call to prayer.”
– Srikanth Reddy
A wall of roses and a different sky–these are the policy Andrew Wessels commends to our disfigured and redacted world. And the commendation is not only timely, tender, and beautiful, though it is all that and much, much more. It is the sovereign lexicon of our best future. A Turkish Dictionary parses prophecy, word by word.
– Donald Revell
Andrew Wessels currently splits his time between Istanbul, where he teaches writing at Koç University, and Los Angeles. A Turkish Dictionary is his first book and Semi Circle, a chapbook of translations of Nurduran Duman’s poems, is available from Goodmorning Menagerie. His poems, translations, and collaborations can be found in VOLT, Witness, Fence, Tammy Journal, Faultline, and Colorado Review, among others. He has held fellowships from Black Mountain Institute and Poets & Writers and is an editor at Les Figues Press.