top of page

From Door Languages I


Doors don't say much to those who disclose nothing
once the inhabitants of a city that no longer exists
introduced a door language
Left ajar
With or without latch
in different colors
each door had its own meaning
that was long ago

today it doesn't rest so much on the door
but on the keys
on the one whose hand holds the keys
at the moment of arrival

who can find the patience to learn a new door language
there are more languages than people
the keys are in the pocket
the code in the mind

if necessary the door is kicked open


Born in Ankara in 1961, Zafer Şenocak moved to Munich with his parents in 1970 where he studied political science, philosophy, and literature. He started publishing books of poetry and essays in the nineteen eighties in Munich winning the Adelbert von Chamisso Award, a literary prize given in Germany for foreigners writing in German. In addition to poetry and fiction, he has a substantial body of work as an essayist of political and social criticism, largely stemming from his years as a contributor to the Berlin alternative daily newspaper die tagezeitung.


Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright's translations of contemporary German poets have appeared in various journals and anthologies. She has received a number of honors, including an NEA fellowship to translate the work of Zafer Şenocak. She served as the German-language contributing editor for the 2008 Graywolf anthology New European Poets and with Franz Wright co-translated the book Factory of Tears by Valzhyna Mort.


In June 2024, Zephyr will publish Şenocak's first book of poetry translated from Turkish, the language of his childhood and one he has increasingly returned to in the 21st century. Read more about Şenocak and his new book, First Light, here.

Door Languages, by Zafer Şenocak

  • Door Languages
    Zafer Şenocak
    from German by Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright
    ISBN 978-0-939010-78-3 (paper)
    6 x 8
    148 pages [bilingual German/English]


    Listen to poet and translator.

  • … a fine edgy satisfyingly demystifying voice.
    —Askold Melnyczuk 


    Door Languages, in Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright's brilliant translation, sends us news of the stranger within us who keeps putting on and taking off a cloak of invisibility. This is bracing work. Line by insinuating line, Zafer Şenocak peels back our most rigid assumptions. These poems, marked by the highest ambition, read like folk tales from the future. 
    —Lee Upton, author of Undid in the Land of Undone

bottom of page