During the holiday season, I usually read travel books about the places I’m visiting (and in the summer, that’s usually Scotland). But this summer I have been reading travelogues set all over the place, some in places that I know well, others that I’ve yet to visit and even those that I never plan to visit. Well, armchair travelling is cheaper and more environmentally friendly, after all!
A Fun Quick Read Full of Turkish Sunshine
Jay Artale’s short but perfectly formed Turkey Tales ticked two different boxes for me: a place I’ve never visited and a travel memoir in a most unusual form, ie verse (it’s lighthearted verse rather than highbrow poetry).
Many of my friends have been captivated by Turkey’s charms, so this seemed a great introduction by someone who is not a tourist but a travel writer specialising in guidebooks about Turkey. She loves the country so much that she recently made it her permanent home. Of English nationality, hailing from Norfolk, she’d spent the previous 17 years living in California, and most of those intending to move to Turkey eventually. Having lived in these three very different places, and more besides, must give her a unique perspective and insight into the subject of this book.
An Easy, Quick and Worthwhile Read
Her debut collection of jaunty, fun verse is an easy, quick read, neatly presented, with each poem prefaced by a brief explanation in prose of how and why it came to be written. This makes it a very pleasant read, allowing breathing space between poems, and adding value to each piece. I felt as if I was watching a one-woman stand-up show, and this format felt more personal and engaging than the poems would have been on their own.
Sharing Her Experiences
During the course of the book, she gradually unfolds the process of moving to Turkey (in the poem entitled, er, “Moving to Turkey”!), slowly segueing from foreigner to local (“Am I an Alien?”) and witnessing the resulting change within herself, which includes gaining the confidence to share her poetry in public for the first time. “Martha’s Vineyard of Scattered Words” pleasingly concludes:
Turkey spread its wings in me,
Those rhymes took flight,
Who knew my words could entertain,
My favourites included “Enjoy the Dance”, in which the intrepid Artale reminds us that there are adventures awaiting us elsewhere, if only we dare strike out to find them, as she has done:
Such a vision, such a view,
Teases us with what we knew,
Was waiting if we took the chance.
So now we just enjoy the dance.
I really love that closing line!
Embracing Cultural Differences
I also enjoyed her observations about cultural differences, such as the Turks’ natural inclination to stare at people and to ask personal questions, to which Jay Artale’s response is to give as good as she gets!
I’m still not sure whether I’ll ever go to Turkey – there are many other places further up my bucket list – but having read this engaging book of spirited verse, I feel I now have a better understanding of the country’s charms. If I do ever go there, I’ll be certain to take Artale’s travel guides with me, as I enjoyed her company on this particular journey in verse.
Free to Download – So Go For It!
This book, which can be read in under an hour, is currently available as a free download from Amazon, presumably as a marketing teaser for her travel books and blog. Whether or not you are already a Turkophile, it’s definitely worth downloading for a bit of armchair travelling or to accompany you on Turkish holidays.
Find out more about Jay Artale, her books, her blog and her photography at her website: www.rovingjay.com