Tuesday, May 16, 2023

a letter to Ilhan Sami Comak

I bring you the season of tulips

and lilacs from our spring season in Ontario

The smell of lilacs is fresh citrus

A reminder of how beautiful spring is

Outside of your prison bars

For more than 25 years

I come bearing the sounds of robins & bluejays

The sighs from the weeping willow trees

As I open the window 

There's black raven flying above our maple trees

Its powerful wings reaching for the sky

I weep when I think about prison walls & cages

We are meant to fly, unchained

And walk, untied

Not of fear or rage or bitterness

But with gentle voice

I hear you

Above the rumbles of dust storm 

The cry for justice

Between dusk and dawn

You will persevere with your will of steel 

One day, you will be walking free

And writing back to me

How you got lost in the forest

smelling the wildflowers   

with petals bluer than the sky


Note about the epistle poem:  

You can read three poems for and poems by Ilhan Sami Comak who has been in a Turkish prison for 27 years. He was arrested as an activist and later became a poet in prison.

Posted for dVerse Poets Pub- Poetics - Uncaging the Poet, with guest host, Paul from Parallax.   Please join us for the theme of justice for those poets behind bars, when the pub doors open at 3pm EST.  


  1. I should have known about him... but there are so many innocent writers behind bars, love how you brought him to the forest for the crime of lighting a forest fire that he confessed to under torture.

  2. What a lovely epistle poem, Grace! I found it hard to choose a specific poet, so I chose to write something more general. I admire the way you absorbed the poems for and by Ilhan Sami Comak and sent him sensual gifts from Ontario. I especially love the ‘sighs from the weeping willow trees’, and the hope you offer in the final stanza.

  3. Grace, I felt those things traveling to Ilhan as I read them. Unfathomable a political prisoner can spend so many years behind bars. A true definition of evil if ever there was one.

  4. Grace this Epistle poem is a beautiful offering, it lifts and cares. I feel encouraged by it. Yes, we chose the same poet, amazing how we are drawn to people and ideas. You certainly capture the futility and grief of imprisonment and yet offer the future as freedom already recognised in words. Thank you for this.

  5. Beautiful and thoughtful. Love the last stanza and the promise of freedom.

    Loves these lines as well:

    “The smell of lilacs is fresh citrus

    A reminder of how beautiful spring is”

    I’m sure he’d appreciate the reminder.❤️

  6. Well done Grace! We sometimes take all those beautiful gifts of nature for granted. For those caged, they are just a dream!


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