Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Whittemore’s Smyrna

Last week Sharon Olinka, a New York poet, sent me her poem, Whittemore’s Smyrna and asked if I would like to add it to the Whittemore site. The site already has Helen Bar-Lev’s Jerusalem Whittemore poems, so I was only too pleased to add Sharon’s poem. Anything Whittemore related is welcome.

Whittemore’s Smyrna is from Sharon Olinka’s book
The Good City. The poems in the book tell the history of Smyrna from an ancient cosmopolitan Mediterranean city to the modern Turkish city of Izmir. You can read more poems from her book here

Whittemore’s novel Sinai Tapestry has a harrowingly graphic description of the destruction of Smyrna on 14th September 1922. It is a little known atrocity. I had certainly never heard of it prior to reading Sinai Tapestry. Largely forgotten, it was overshadowed by the Second World War. Hitler is purported to have said, in support of his own plans for genocide,"Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

These days there are many sites dealing with the burning of Smyrna, though no one appears to be quite sure who lit the fires that burned the city. The Greeks say the Turks did it, the Turks say it was the Armenians and Greeks. Here’s a link to a comprehensive article on the event on

Other news

Tomorrow night I’m off to see The Handsome Family. The show is sold out, so no doubt I’ll have to stand for several hours. I’m supposed to be writing a review for Nu Country and fortunately I now have a penlight, so I’ll have no problems writing in the dark. I’ll report, hopefully with pictures, on Friday.


chiefbiscuit said...

Look forward to that report!
Thanks for the info re Smyrna ... I hadn't twigged really to what happened there - altho the Armenian - Turkish thing I have read a little about. Was there a book called Black Dog about it? An autobiography written by an Armenian guy ... must google it and see if I can corroborate what (I think) are facts. facts.

chiefbiscuit said...
Here's the link to the book I was thinking about.

Anne S said...

Thanks CB for the link to the book, I'll look into it.

"Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides also has a section on that particular event in history.