The Exiled Poet Maḥmūd Bayram Al-TūnīsīÖmer İshakoğlu
Maḥmūd Bayram was born and raised in Egypt as a member of a Tunisian family. Although his circumstances prevented him from receiving a regular education, he eventually became a leading figure in society thanks to his intelligence and devotion to study. However, Bayram’s fighting spirit and sensitivity to injustice resulted in him being sentenced to exile by the colonial powers and the administrations under their control. Despite spending most of his life in exile under difficult conditions, he continued the literary pursuits that he had started in Egypt. He also worked as a manager and writer for various newspapers and magazines. Although he produced works in genres such as poetry, articles, stories, and maqāms, he was best known for his zadjal and song lyrics written in the local vernacular. Consequently, Bayram did not achieve the recognition he deserved in the literary world. This article, which addresses the absence of a private study of him in Turkish, examines the many literary genres in which Maḥmūd Bayram wrote and considers previously neglected personal aspects of his works. Alongside his literary identity, Bayram often adopted political and reformist structures and engaged with difficult struggles accordingly. While the title of folk artist was attributed to Bayram, this study demonstrates that he also produced works of high literary value. Thus, it would clearly seem beneficial to undertake individual studies or learned dissertations about his works in each literary genre.
Sürgün Şairi Mahmud Bayram et-TûnisîÖmer İshakoğlu
Mahmud Bayram, Tunus asıllı bir aileye mensup olarak Mısır’da doğdu ve yetişti. Hayat şartları düzenli bir eğitim almasına engel olsa da zekâsı ve okumaya olan ilgisi sayesinde toplumun önde gelenleri arasına girmeyi başardı. Ancak mücadeleci ruhu ve haksızlıklara karşı olan duyarlılığı neticesinde özellikle sömürge güçleri ve onların güdümünde olan yönetimler tarafından sürgün cezasına çarptırıldı. Hayatının önemli bir bölümünü sürgünde ve zor şartlar altında geçirdi. Buna rağmen Mısır’da başlamış olduğu yazın hayatına sürgünde de devam etti. Çeşitli gazete ve dergilerde idareci ve yazar olarak çalıştı. Şiir, makale, öykü ve makâme türlerinde eserler vermiş olsa da, halk dilinde yazdığı zecelleri ve şarkı sözleri ile tanındı. Bu yüzden edebiyat dünyasında hak ettiği yeri bulamadı. Kendisi hakkında Türkçe müstakil bir çalışma yapılmamış olmasından dolayı kaleme alınan bu makalede; Mahmud Bayram’ın ihmal edilerek görmezden gelinen kişisel yönleri ile yazdığı birçok edebi tür hakkında incelemede bulunulmuştur. Ayrıca edebiyatçı kimliğine ek olarak, siyasi ve reformcu bir yapıya sahip olduğu ve bunun için çetin mücadelelere giriştiği görülmüştür. Kendisine yakıştırılan halk sanatçısı sıfatının yanı sıra, aynı zamanda edebi değeri yüksek ürünler verdiği de tespit edilmiştir. Bütün bunların ışığında; yazdığı her bir edebi tür hakkında müstakil çalışmaların ya da bilimsel tezlerin kaleme alınmasının faydalı olacağı düşünülmektedir.
Maḥmūd Bayram al-Tūnīsī was born on March 23, 1893 in Alexandria, Egypt. His ancestor Bayram, who was of Turkic origin, served in the army commanded by Koca Sinān Pasha (981/1574) that captured the Khalḳ al-Wādī castle in the east of Tunis from its Spanish occupiers. This ancestor of Bayram would later settle in Tunisia. Muṣṭafā al-Tūnīsī, Maḥmūd Bayram’s grandfather, left Tunisia to perform his pilgrimage in the first half of the 19th century. When passing through Alexandria on his return, he chose to remain there on a permanent basis. After his primary education, Maḥmūd Bayram only undertook formal education irregularly because his father had passed away, leaving him to undertake certain responsibilities. Nonetheless, Bayram attended classes at local madrasas, during which time he received some unofficial religious education, negotiated various issues with the students there, and borrowed books from the madrasa libraries. He particularly loved to read poems of the zadjal type by folk writers such as ʻUthmān Djalāl, al-Ḳavsī, İmām al-ʻAbd, and ʻAbd Allah Nedīm. In addition to private reading, Maḥmūd Bayram had the opportunity to improve himself by participating in literary gatherings. Among these, the Democratic Discourse Society, founded in Alexandria, had an important place. Bayram also frequented a small coffee house, which became a frequent destination for writers and artists. Poets such as Aḥmed Zeki Abū Shādī (d. 1955) and composers such as Sayyed Darwīsh (d. 1923) often visited the coffee house, and Bayram would later be in close contact with these personalities and undertake joint works with them. Bayram thus embarked on a life that would attract the attention of many people in the future, seeking through his own efforts and exertions to compensate for his inability to receive a regular education.
Alongside family troubles, Maḥmūd Bayram also suffered from the political crisis in Egypt. British colonial oppression, combined with the politics of the ruling royal family and the intrigues of collaborators, seriously affected the people. Bayram, who was deeply troubled by this situation, attended the meetings of the aforementioned Democratic Discourse Society and mirrored his own feelings and those of the population in the poems he read there. Bayram began to send some of his poems to the al-Ahāli newspaper, published by ʻAbd al-Ḳādīr Ḥamza in Alexandria. From 1916, people began to read poems in the pages of this newspaper, written in fluent language and articulating their own problems. Maḥmūd Bayram’s poems disturbed the colonial powers and the administrations under their control, and he was sentenced to exile. Bayram’s exile in France lasted 13 years, from 1919 to 1932. During this time he traveled to Tunisia once and stayed there for several weeks. He also escaped from France with a fake passport in 1922 and returned to Egypt, but could only hide for six months and was again exiled to France once he was noticed. Bayram found his years in exile difficult and had to work very hard. He then spent the years 1932–1937 in Tunisia. During this time, he joined with youth who struggled against the colonial order and sought to remedy the underdevelopment of their society. He published the newspaper Shabāb (Youth) for them and assumed the role of editor-in-chief at another newspaper. He was asked to raise public awareness by writing bravely in his articles in these publications. Nonetheless, he was compelled to leave the country in 1937 when he disturbed certain circles in Tunisia and the French colonial administration. He was sent to Beirut, then under French mandate, and from there to Damascus. Since it was known that Bayram would be uncomfortable in these places, he was placed on a ship bound for Senegal, then also a French colony. When the ship stopped at Port Said, Egypt, Bayram found a way to disembark and after hiding in the city for a time, went to Cairo. He sought amnesty for himself by using important personalities he knew in Cairo as intermediaries and by penning an ode to King Fārūḳ, then head of the royal family, asking forgiveness.
After the revolution in Egypt on October 23, 1952, Maḥmūd Bayram, who wrote poems praising both the revolution and those who carried it out, was granted citizenship by Egyptian President Djamāl ʻAbd al-Nāṣir in 1954. In addition to his restored reputation, Bayram was deemed worthy of a first-degree science and art award. Bayram, who lived more comfortably from this date until his death in 1961, not only continued to write in newspapers and magazines but also enhanced his fame by writing lyrics for Egypt’s leading artists, especially Umm Khulthum.
Maḥmūd Bayram, rather than coming to the fore with his political struggles, attempts to reform the society, and thinker, influenced the masses with his literary aspect and attracted the attention of those who researched him. Some factors were particularly effective in bringing attention to Bayram’s literature. Chief among these was the idea that art and literature are for the people. A writer who does not mix with the people, does not know their problems, and does not live like them, will not be favored by theme. Such a writer appeals to a certain audience, becomes a court poet, and sees literature as a means of making money through flattery. According to Bayram, literature cannot be learned at school and having a diploma is not the way to go. To become a man of letters, it is not enough to study the branches of learning related to literature. Again, according to Bayram, one must remove the barriers between literature and life. Literature cannot be abstracted from life or life from literature. Another factor that helped to promote Maḥmūd Bayram’s literary output was his sarcastic and humorous style. This style, seen in Arabic literary figures such as al-Djāhiẓ in the classical period and ʻAbd al-Allah Nedīm in the modern period, has features that do not bore the reader, but amuse him and touch his life while aiming to preach and advice by addressing various problems. Bayram reached large masses through his poems and stories, most of which were written in plain, simple, and understandable folk language. The loss of his parents at an early age, and the fact that he left his education halfway and started life early, meant that he was self-taught rather than a scholar, and gained the title of folk artist by mingling with the people. In addition to his numerous articles with political and social content published in newspapers and magazines, Maḥmūd Bayram stands out for his short stories, maqāmes, and poems and zadjals written in colloquial language.