Talented people pen a letter to share the love of that thing they are passionate about. The world needs more love and more love letters.
FEM GÜÇLÜTÜRK
Dear Çıtlık Tree,
We came along to your village in a spring time, where they had us go through the bushes, pass by the pine trees and left us on a valley.

They first showed us the centuries-old, wise, abundant olive trees.
It is not hard to fall in love with the olive. Yet to love you, one needs to know how to see instead of just looking and believe in love that develops over time, rather than the love at first sight.
With your graceful leaves, tiny black fruits and your white-grey textured trunk which resembles a Birch tree that is in love with the Northern cold, you have found yourself a place amidst the olive trees. You are surrounded by the wild and thorny blackberries.
We asked them: “Would you introduce us?”
“This one?” they asked. “It is the çıtlık tree, that’s how we call the turpentine here. This village is called Çıtlık, as well.”

That day, we decided to live with you forever. We wanted to build our heaven right by your side.
We loved you, your soil, the pine trees on your back, your shadow, your fertility and your neighborliness with the olives.
The blackberries were cleaned out and your stature has come to light. We combed your hair and smartened you, we began to get to know each other. You told us that your fruits are especially good for the birds in Permaculture and you want no other plants other than the nightshades on your skirts because you are jealous. You demand no extra care. Then you told us how they make elastic and aesthetic sticks out of your branches and evil eye necklaces for protection. You told us how the children gather your fruits to spit them at one another. And most importantly, you told us how willing you are to provide us a place on your skirts to tie a hammock so that we can enjoy a siesta in that extremely hot summer afternoon.

Then we learned your original name, “Celtis australis”.
We learned that you even had a story in mythology.
It was due to our own ignorance that we had not learn more about you in all those past years. No one who tastes your fruits can ever abandon you. And we decided that we could never leave you even before we tasted your fruits. How could we ever imagine that you were to make us fall in love so gracefully by means of your virtues, not by your striking beauty!

And you have such a fertility that each of your fruits is a candidate to be a new you. Our garden is now full of finger-length Çıtlık babies. Day by day, we loved you more. We became mesmerized and fell in love with you. If one day we die here, being buried by your side to nourish you will be our greatest season finale. We came to spend a lifetime with you.
Would you welcome us dear Çıtlık tree?

BARBAROS ALTUĞ
To you…
You will never be able to read this letter, but I’m still writing it to you. Because you are still the one, I love the most.

No, you are not dead yet, you are alive. See, life doesn’t end so easily. Do you remember how your forty-year-old mother seemed so old to you; you calculated how old she and you would be in 2000 and got upset in vain. She is still with you, strong and healthy. I wish I could tell you how much you get upset for such trivial things. But you will realize it when you are forty.

Your dreams will change; you will not create that happy family. You will have a cat and some love stories, at most. They will give your toy train you had played with in your childhood to a relative’s child, thinking that you are too much grown-up to play with it. You will be happy even though you don’t see that train any more since you dream of it some nights. No one else but you will know this secret. And me. But you will travel around the world just as you always dreamt; you will live in Paris, London and New York.

You may not be able to have a family, but you will have good friends, they will lift you up whenever you are about to fall. They will make their voices heard even though you are far. Maybe they will know you better than your family would, and they will be your family.

You will be frustrated lots of times; you will withdraw in your shell as your loved ones hurt you. But there will always be someone who cracks your shell because you have been a romantic since your birth, just as your mother told you.

This will first make you a strange person in life, but later a special one. So, don’t you ever fear it. Just run back to home after school, as you always do, instead of playing soccer with your friends, and continue reading that book you started to read in the dim crimson light of the night lamp the night before, as you sneaked out of your bed when everyone in the house was sleeping. Your eyesight might fail just because of that light, and you and I will be the only ones to know why. You will feel a little bit tired at school because of lack of sleep and you will have a stomach-ache because of sitting on the cold floor at nights. But it will be worth it, because what’s most beautiful is that you will write a book. So, the first and foremost dream of your life will be realized, even though you would have been doing all sorts of different things for years.

Then, years later, at a time that would seem so far to you now, they will want from you to write a letter to a loved one. Without thinking a second, you will start writing this letter to the child that doesn’t talk much but loves his curly blonde hair and books. Your hair will be neither so curly nor that blonde then. What is more, they will sometimes say you talk too much nowadays.

But you will find yourself smiling as if looking at an old and beautiful picture whenever you think of him. You will always know that he is the only person that brought you to this day in life, whose days you memorized. Nothing will change it. Please take good care of that child who still bites his nails as I write this letter. He will struggle not to be like anyone else but himself, but believe me, this is not an easy task. It is even harder than surviving sometimes. But bear in mind that he will still be loving you years later and even write a letter to you for that…

DİLAN BOZYEL
To the city whose walls I am in love with,
I don’t know how many more times I will see that antique shop at the corner of Gemmayzeh Street in my dreams. Maybe there’s something wrong about this.

Would a person not dream about the city she was born in, as she ages? It was the year two thousand and nine when I first met you. Maybe it was a syndrome of a journey along with a terrible turbulence in the air that made me fall in love with you. And isn’t everything somewhat a syndrome in life anyway? I met you many times more thereafter, ignoring the turbulences that caught me in life or in the sky. I touched your walls and I kissed them. Why would I, as a woman who could invest five times of minimum wage in tightening her pores that open as she ages, adore a city’s wall that is full of holes?

Again and again I strolled through the Armenian Street that still lives in the 80s with the white underwear hanging on rooftop; humming songs. There is only one word that can explain why I was infatuated with your French, your Arabic and your history as a whole. The mysterious as well as the indispensable equation of centuries; love. Every now and then, these days, I glance at the black and white photos I had taken on your streets and I go through the notes I had written in my black notebook as I was sitting at the edges of your streets. Why on earth, and with what kind of a courage could I have attempted it, I have no idea; yet I am writing a book for you these days.

I can’t stop thinking about your people who so much own up to the traces of your internal war, your walls covered with holes or the ruined buildings in every one of your streets. I don’t know how mankind chooses a city for himself to live. But I know that he keeps missing a city that he once saw and chose. He goes around the World, just like the Sun does, yet finally ends up in that city he has been missing.

Each time I pack my suitcase with the excitement of not knowing how many days I will spend on your soil.

Yet as I arrive, I feel reborn each time I hear the sound of a church bell blending into the voice of a call to prayer from a mosque. I run into your streets just to accompany a chirpy Arabic song shaking my shoulders with the rhythm in a random restaurant when I would normally almost run away from the weddings of my closest friends, where similar songs are played, or even hide under a table when I hear such songs. Contrary to those times when I would want to postpone the mornings at nights, trying to hide in my bed when the day breaks in the borders of Beyoğlu, in Istanbul, where my house, my studio and my cat are; here in another city, in your arms, my veins are filled with an exuberant inspiration. And I have no answer to that, other than love.

This is not a confession, it is the sheer truth: Beirut, I am in love with you.

ALP İŞMEN
Dear Love,

I woke up, you are in my mind. I forgot during breakfast but each time I took a sip from my tea, I remembered again; long before that innocent night, when I was purifying myself, being naked under hot water made me think of you. I had you in one part of my mind and your smell in another part. Welcome. Who were you? Which flower were you, which one did you relished?  You were the one which you, your own, smelled. What am I going to do with myself - with myself who have known you?

I woke up, you are in my mind. I forgot during breakfast but each time I took a sip from my tea, I remembered again; long before that innocent night, when I was purifying myself, being naked under hot water made me think of you. I had you in one part of my mind and your smell in another part. Welcome. Who were you? Which flower were you, which one did you relished?  You were the one which you, your own, smelled. What am I going to do with myself - with myself who have known you?

She used to love me starting from my shoulders, from my shoulders, then, my hands. It was my hands who were crying at the end, it was the smell of longings. Wish we wake up to a beautiful morning.

Pardon me, who were you? Your substance is in the smell brought by a wind.

Love! I need you. I am sick. It’s not me but my heart. It’s your brain that keeps my heart alive. My brain is in coma. Be a remedy for my soul before my death occurs. Let your breath bundles me up, and your body bundles my substance, your soul bundles my body up. Love! I need you! You filled the space which was resultant of your absence. This is an occupation that the history will never see again! I cannot sleep. Love! You need me.

Discharge the pain; discharge it one by one at each step.

Tell me, how are you? Free from the whirlpool of the streams, the waters are calm on the surface. I am walking towards the clouds.

I am the earth, sheer, essential. I soak all the existence as far as it comes from you, while I have laid no life, fallen no branch or known no skin. One day, when the rage of the split sky is quiet again, the rocks would crack; my longing would become ashes in the grave of my god. I would know the crack on the mirror of the rising day. Oh, of my heart…

Full moon is today. With the tenderness of a wild touch, its mind is united with life. The spell of the archaic word says that all that becomes connects to the one who makes with his own name; it’s up to you to find it.

Love.

Beauty was warm hands heating some cool places of you, in a moonlit night; some cool places of you or it was your skin that soaked my heat up and it was our gazes searching for the other; such as the glow of the moon light on the sea accompanies our nights, in its deep. It was beautiful. There was evening twilight in your taste.

I have been blinded by blood in absent scarlets, where is love in that? Hey, love! The dream of nights full of love, each one has fallen down, glittering brightly in the moss-bound cliché of the roots which permeated ironless, marbleless, baseless grave walls. Nights that resurrect… With my wisdom far from wornness, as much as the arbor allows, I have known that we are one. Because I believed, if only for a moment, in the fairytale of one for all, I stared at the sun that buries me in the night. I drank, licked the blood on your lips; didn’t I see that the moon light smiles in each statue which turned into an unexceptional stone made of cold, sticky, worse white marble.

Green and black, slippery and joyful; the revolution of archaic fears gave birth to a smell from the council of forests: Rotting is life, each drop of which falling among the leaves, reaching to the earth is blood, water and poison. Bite me purely with the teeth of a white, moist and slippery snake which glided after a pitch-black night, didn’t I see that the moon light smiles?

One goes on the road, one comes from the road, one chases love on that road, and one also runs away from that road with the smell of a moment; with the fear of beauties: it commands, stop! Until it stops with the tiring, tired faint of past; it freezes on the side, the passage of boats stand, shovels hover. The smell of airless home, curbsides on which lives are hidden; at its foot, the longing for grass grow on a corner; longing is imprisoned in a glance, didn’t I see that the moon light smiled in that whiteness!

Sleep. Stream of the most challenging rivers. You can wake up in its delta, you can be buried under the residue of dreams. It means falling in dream, it is the other sun that shines behind a mirror so that you would think it is moon light; white hole, white matter. Sleep.  It calls. Run. It is not the youth that ends but the hopes of the leaf, the branch, life’s resin that overflows from a crack in the overthrown trees. Sleep. The humus of fertile forests. You would imagine it’s only your voice that resists rotting. Rotting is life, the smell of blood smudged in your hands carries the pain to you. When you put the pain to sleep, the brain flows, falls apart through your fingers. A little blood is piled up in your palm and the linden-scented moon is reflected.  The moon. The being in your sleep. Whatever vengeance you harbor, it springs up whitely in your bed. This is the revenge of infidelity. Love is the sleep of the shroud bundled up. Wake up! Hope to sober up from the mornings bathed in water. Let your hungover body gleam. Go. Let the road bring you to my grave. Stare at my stone without blinking so that it starts to moss, let my love leave chilly marks on your cheek. Let the vein in my temple beats in peace on each and every full moon. Whichever age’s call it is, I promise that I will follow it. Wait for me in the poison that leaks from the most secret wound in your skin. I lay down on that delta with a jot of your poison. The pain of wrecked ships, of lost lands, of missing lives, of souls sacrificed for pleasure is a cool breeze on my forehead. This touch is the contact of the longing in which the rose in my grave is rooted, it is the need that leaks from your breath. Come, lay beside me, sleep cuddling the shroud of time. Forget. Forgetting is the running of the myths gathered from pain. Sleeping is resurrection. Didn’t I see you smile!

Teeth that gleam in the middle of a smiling face with their dimmed eyes. It is the lip of immobility that speaks, it is the fossilized words of love. The absence in my mirror is due to the vanishing of my light; look carefully, the secret behind you is blood. You will see the fact that you are a gem that is whiter than your brain. It is just a pitch-black matter of time that is about to rot; touching you is Mesapotamia; it is as intimate as the rock from which the earth comes. Whenever two rivers meet the gulf with thunderbolts, your breath is as volatile as ether when it passes through my breath, witnesses become speechless: Earth and Sky, only if these two gods both forget about the other then the holly water freezes in the well. The desert understands. These bodies have melded into sand ages ago. Who would know which grain, dust, piece, jot, atom belongs to whom. Here, I; there, you who crossed the mountains! What difference does it make, yours or mine; be born Enkidu out of your sorrow, out of Gılgamesh’s saliva. Shout towards mountains! Both who gave birth and who is born are from you.

Yesterday, it has been precisely hundred years. I have been waiting your breath for one century to be born again. I have become a taintless breeze from the peaks of the high merely for that; there is a shiver over my nape. I have become warmer. I have given birth.

I slept. I woke up.

Don’t forget to be loved.

Alp.

MU TUNÇ
With love to the underworld,
This letter is for those…
Who try to play the melody in their dreams having no concerns about how many people will click on their music, who continue to share the pictures they want to share, which they know will not receive many “likes” in social media, who pass by the “best-selling” section and visit other shelves in a bookstore,

who accept a friend’s invitation on a weekday that no one knows about instead of going to a weekend party that everyone dies to enter, who insist to go to a one-session movie instead of a “most-watched” movie, who take the pains to read the same news from various websites, who spend their money for someone who has just made his first design instead of a world-famous brand, who buy the artwork of an artist that is not sold in auctions or does not exist in a gallery, who click on the categories they have never tried before instead of the ones suggested by the internet based on their former preferences, who believe that a friend of theirs can achieve something that no one has achieved before, who read the interviews instead of just looking at the pictures in a magazine, who are interested in a work that isn’t awarded, who dance to a DJ’s music set whose number of listeners is not more than a few, who invest in someone for his energy even though they don’t know much about him, who take their girlfriend to a small restaurant that no one talks about, who are interested in something that has happened in the past or might happen in the future, who like what cannot be categorized, who discover a new book from the footnote of the book they are reading and do everything to find it, who suddenly turn and look back when waiting in a queue, who make a search on the designer of a product that caught their eye, who give someone his first job, who listen the album of a musician from its beginning to end, who shoot movies without considering how many would watch, as well as their team who help them, who wander in second-hand booksellers for no reason, who go to a place by themselves that no one suggested, who work without any expectation to be discovered, who become friends with the one that no one wants to be a friend with, who can express their love and admiration to others that are more successful and beautiful, who, in every corner and micro moment of life, understand that what is visible is nourished by the invisible that is not readily seen; just like the ones who realize that an age-old tree can stand only with the help of the nourishment that comes from thousands of roots or recognize that what support a city are not the buildings on the ground, but the interactions of the energy between different people in those buildings, to those who are interested in what’s hidden under the ground more than what’s seen on it,
I send my greetings and my love.

GONCA VUSLATERİ
My meet due honour, Istanbul,

Dear İstanbul... My beautiful city… My favorite…

What you call “value” is somehow measured by the remembrance that the value is underestimated. You cannot explain presence unless you use absence as a base. One can pick an intention, a standard, pleasure, contentedness, a poem behind even the most pretend smile.

Istanbul, you are a bon vivant, established city. Parasites and slackers can never ever achieve the dance of the chatty. You are a crowded poem; all your words migrated from a different culture.

Here, I am standing in front of Haydarpaşa Train Station - a wonderful unity of German and Italian mastership. I am 16 years old, sitting on the stairs for the first time.

These are the times when our only ‘attraction’ is to skip the school and go to Haydarpaşa with friends… From where we sit we watch the seagulls landing on the opposite shore while old men who fell asleep at the Train Station bar eat Turkish bagels and cheese while drinking tea. It was the time the City of Angels (1999) came out to the theaters just recently and I memorized Haydarpaşa Train Station as the place where all the angels on duty in Turkey gather. Is there any seagull which does not miss the ferry’s departure time? Those which go to the Beşiktaş Pier leaving you when the ferry gets close to the Haydarpaşa…

This place survived two grand fires. The service is temporarily stopped in 2012. Four floors are completely collapsed. The last night, we were together on the sadness of an Ankara train with no self-awareness. We were going to Ankara with the wagon-lit. There were Italians in the bar. They were talking loud; they were saying “cheers” while their glasses were raised. They were talking about our cheer. We said “No sir”. This stain is for all of us. Cheers to you…

There was an old man there, almost at the same age with the station. “This is the last day of my duty” he was saying. With his eyes looking outside the window for the first time, he pulled a wagon full of Turkey’s smell off its hook with the heart-throb rumble of the rails. Then things went off the rail. Isn’t it true, İstanbul?

Views from the Stairs

It is a historical day in Kuzguncuk.
I was accepted in the Conservatory. Ah! What an excitement! You were there with me that day and how we were cold just because you weren’t in the mood... We walked away from the shore; we sat with one of my friends on the endless stairs where are breaths run short. “Look” she said. “Bülent Emin Yarar lives here.” I got excited. ‘Çayhane’ was not yet on the stages in İstanbul. There are still many years until ‘the Professional’ wins our hearts. We are looking at you from the Kuzguncuk stairs. The night resembles the song ‘Eftelya the Mermaid’. It’s like the sea sparkles sing at an open air concert. We are drunk in your endless conversation. People who went out reading poems… The brewing of the woman who was a costume chef in Yeşilçam... The retired dramaturge woman’s home-cooking shop named ‘Betty Blue’… Gürol Ağırbaş’s playing the guitar while sipping from his rakı on his balcony… İstanbul gentlemen who may one day be shaken by Birsen Tezer...

Conversations on the Fifth Floor of the Cihangir

Kuzguncuk… The shore of friendships which are mixed with Turkish bagels, tomatoes, olives, thyme and olive oil in transparent bags, go down the transparent people’s throats and probably are not treated without tea.

It is the backstage of many poems and young art students who stare at Cihangir like it is America. Cats are the watchers of its streets. If you didn’t see the same cat in the same street once more, then it means that there is danger in the street. When the compote’s fat is set, you get upset Istanbul, I know that. Kuzguncuk becomes a pole; young men with almond faces become demons so that the justice can pass by the pole safe and sound. I like Kuzguncuk, too. I visit it like every tourist human being on this earth on which we are not permanent. Because you are more naïve, there… You keep on the right side of me, I know...

One can say that there is something with you. Despite all this chaos and this entire intimate confusion, one does not feel sick and the neighborhoods and the side streets don’t hurt each other… Despite all these things!

We experience productions, failures, wars that extend to centuries in order to take one step that is slow and secure just like we live in an elephant’s body. Our fastest confrontations render us the least fertile century but there is balance in the nature! We know that. This wounded one carries you for a reason. One looks for a talisman in you that matures one’s self after each historical artifact dries up and falls down and each historical moment is deleted.

These are too many responsibilities for a city... Really, how did you manage that? That’s why each time I thought about leaving I rehearsed death to myself. Because, there is something… In Cihangir, on the fifth floor of the last building on Cihangir Street, there is something with you that make Orhan Veli say “eyes closed”. Indeed, what did you talk about with Orhan that day?

Memories in Galatasaray’s Bibliopoles

For instance, there is Vahap Usta* the bibliopole. He was one of your oldest bibliopoles. Your oldest confidant... I was 19 when I met him and Vahap Usta was really old then. He was selling the last books he had. Cemal Süreyya, Edip Cansever, Yaşar Kemal, Turgut Uyar and many others came to his store in Galatasaray, read in front of his door the painters’ sketches, notes, historical stories kept in hidden corners of Europe, drinking weak tea. Vahap Usta was a man who many actors look for. When he wanted to press his own book, they pleased him by ‘printing’ it. “If you put the pages together, make it readable and if you are curious about the next page – you will be OK without a publisher. Everyone will read you” he used to say. This transparency of him used to kill me. He was selling to people he choose the 10 books he had because he promised not to die until he has no books in his store. Sometimes it was hard to earn the knowledge; we dusted our coats on the pavements and with Ustas to be able to say that we know. “People at home are driving me crazy, Usta.” “You are already crazy, my mad Gonca.”

Orphan Stories from Galata

And in Galata, you tell the story of a crowd who ran away from the orphanage. Those bibliopoles bring pickups from Germany to the country.
Hümeyra is still very young when she draws illustrations on those pickups covers. That ‘Kördüğüm (Tangle)’** is not yet resolved. They would leave the Melek Kobra story in Burçak Evren and Gökhan Çuhadar’s room on a Monday. Only later will we know that this girl who died from tuberculosis at age 25 is actually the Ayşe of the first Ayşe Operetta. We would confront the youth stories of Semiha Berksoy or Cahide Sonku in Gülriz Sururi’s childhood memories. However, you would hide your displeasure, İstanbul.

Just like Samiha Ayverdi once told, the sieve of the time would know what to do, wouldn’t it İstanbul? “It won’t stop those who fall and will shake off the rest. What pours out pours out; what remains remains...”

*A Turkish term for addressing those who are experts at a certain craft.
**One of Hümeyra’s most popular songs from 1969.

MİRGÜN CABAS
Dear my son,

My golden-haired son,

You are sitting across me with your huge red lips, your blue eyes, and your spindle shanks... You have gobbled up the piece of chocolate I just gave you. I got away with the kisses I got in return. You are looking at the television, asking questions here and there about the movie you are watching.

I told you thousands of things in the past four years since you were born. The things I told you became increasingly complex. The number of the questions I don’t know the answers of increased. It got harder to put off the ones I don’t know. Since the day you started talking, each time you open up your mouth, you work so hard to find the right words... Still, when I listen to you, what I am mostly afraid of is not that you will ask difficult questions but that one day your sweet speech will change and the letters you misspell will be correct. Terevision, Reyra (Leyla), possibre... All these will be history...

You were the only one who could speak with your French friend with whom you came home from school, last week. We were listening to your increasingly long sentences in Turkish, smiling and in astonishment but now we have to deal with French, too. While we were hardly coping with only one of the languages, you came to be a bilingual young person.

Yesterday, on the ferry, when we were coming back from Büyükada, you suddenly raised your head up from the cartoon you were carefully watching on your tablet and showed me the orange sun going down the horizon over Istanbul’s silhouette. You made me tell you why the sun is orange.

You revolted at me when we were walking on the streets of Büyükada to catch the ferry because we couldn’t find a coach. Then, to add some benefits to the situation you find a drudgery, I said: “The best way to explore somewhere you don’t know is to walk around in there.” At first, you seemed convinced; but then you asked “But how are we supposed to go somewhere we don’t even know” and laughed with the joy of finding the contradiction in what I said.

Just now, you squinted into my face. You looked like you were going to say something that is on the tip of your tongue. Then you changed your mind. I believe, I witnessed one of the moments when you learned how to weigh your words. Indeed, you would better do because we need such a person in our family.

This evening, it will be just the two of us at home. Soon, I will be trying to make you enjoy some food. Then we will bargain to close the television. We will agree upon that you will watch either one film or two short ones; but in the last minutes, you will cold-bloodedly break the agreement. When you go to bed, you will squeeze your ragged sleeping buddy rag cat under your arm. I will read you a new chapter from Pinocchio’s adventures. Later, you will leave your bed ten times for trivial reasons. Each time I will put you back in bed and increase the level of my threats a little bit more. You will not care. When you started to fix your gazes in the space, I will hug you, kiss you, and leave your side.

Then, you will wake up earlier than me, no matter what I will do. You will stand by me and check if I am awake or not. At that moment you will wake me up, I will pull you into the bed to playfully wrestle and a brand-new day will begin.

Then, when you laugh at something with your snow-white teeth, I will look at you thinking how much I love you and whether I will remember today when you grow up to be an adult man. Then, I will sit down and write a letter that will tell us about this day...
Mirgün Cabas 


 

FROM THE ARCHIVES
FEASTS
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The art of using the right napkin in four steps.

FINDS
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The most naive and naked David Bowie voice you could ever hear and other precious records...

CASE SERIES
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The French designer Andrée Putman’s life resembles a stage performance in which she takes on different roles, repeatedly changing behind the curtains.
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BLACKOUTS
VENICE

The city that has no roads, just canals lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces. Maybe the most beautiful city in the world; the city of water…

LOVE LETTERS
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The love letter to Çıtlık Ağacı (Turpentine Tree) that botanist Fem Güçlütürk wrote is reflecting something beyond the love that we know.

SENSES
AYŞE BOYNER

We feel Ayşe Boyner’s high energy through all of her senses.

CITIZENS
NURAY ADA

Best friend, a local break spot, a deep relaxing breath, or maybe a handful of mud ready to be shaped…