Next week sees the publication in Turkish of Denis O’Hearn’s biography of Bobby Sands, Nothing But An Unfinished Song. The book will be published in time for the Istanbul Book Fair, November 8th -11th . The book, under the Turkish title, Yarim Kalmış Bir Şarkı: Bobby Sands’in Hayatı ve Dönemi, is published by Yordam Kitap of Istanbul.
The publication of the biography of Bobby Sands in Turkish is especially poignant because more than 100 political prisoners and their supporters died on hunger strike in Turkey during 2000-2007, an action which they claimed was in the tradition of Bobby Sands and his comrades. In 2012, Kurdish political prisoners went on hunger strike for 68 days, again citing the influence of the Irish hunger strikers of 1981. Students were arrested when they followed an Irish tactic of the H-Block protests, writing, “Kurdish prisoners are on hunger strike in F-type Prisons” on Turkish banknotes.
The original title of the book, Nothing But an Unfinished Song (Yarım Kalmış Bir Şarkı) comes from a poem written in Bursa prison in the 1930s by Turkey’s greatest poet, Nazim Hikmet.
In his preface to the Turkish edition, Denis O’Hearn writes: ” It is especially moving to me for this book to be published in Turkish. The title, of course, is taken from a poem that was written by Nazim Hikmet while he was in Bursa prison. The degree to which Hikmet’s image of the “unfinished song” fits the life of Bobby Sands is uncanny. Not only was Bobby’s life filled with music – songs of other people that he sang and songs that he wrote himself – but his life itself was and is a wonderful song. It was often sung in the most horrible places and circumstances, and his physical song was left unfinished when he and nine other courageous young men died on hunger strike in 1981. The H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison outside of Belfast, where Sands and hundreds of men suffered and died for their ideals, was the site of one of the most horrible episodes in prison history. For five years hundreds of men were kept naked in their cells, with only blankets to wear. They were beaten and abused. They were the “blanketmen.” Yet through all of the horrors of that period, which you will read about in this book, Bobby Sands sang his song, with great power and joy. And although it remains unfinished, it lives on through other free men and women across the world and new verses continue to be written…”
Read the article on the Bobby Sands Trust website here