Welcome to my website. I am Halee Isil Cosar a Turkish Australian poet, teacher and performer.
I created this website in order to connect with you and share some of my work and ideas.
I was born in Turkey and migrated to Australia with my parents and older sister at the age of three. I am not sure why my parents left their teaching posts and happy life in Turkey to work in factories in Sydney. Perhaps they were seduced by the idea of their daughters having a cosmopolitan international education because in the 1970’s, Turkey was still developing and did not offer as many opportunities as Australia.
It must have been difficult for my parents. Imagine, leaving behind everything you know, to travel 20 000 kilometres to start a new life in a country where you do not speak the language proficiently. My parents started work almost immediately. They worked in factories that manufactured glass, paper bags, beer, motor parts. Some days, they would work two shifts and we would not see them. In those days it was common practise for migrants to live with other families or in close proximity to them. Our close neighbours were keeping an eye on us but it was too hard for my parents to manage and save so when I was nine and my older sister twelve, we were sent to live with my grandparents in Izmir. Our younger sister who was born soon after our arrival in Australia was already sent there to be raised by my grandparents. Through the 70’s and 80’s my sisters and I were sent back and forth between Sydney and Izmir so we could receive a bicultural and bilingual education.
When we were older and the youngest girl was born, my mother bought an industrial sewing machine and sewed through days and sometimes nights. By this stage dad was heavily involved in community work especially setting up community language schools and preparing resources for the Turkish teachers. In one of my early poems I wrote, our house is half dust from mum’s sewing and half paper from dad’s clippings.
As young women, my sisters and I had a lot of time alone as we were not allowed to go out much. Our parents however did instil in us a love of reading. Our favourite books were those by the Bronte sisters. In fact, in our countless fantasies, our favourite was that Cosar sisters will one day be as famous as the Bronte sisters. We read to each other words scribbled on napkins at cafes or lines we loved from famous poets. Then, we all had to ‘grow up.’ Like most people we put a hold on our passions because we had to have jobs to pay our bills because in those days that is what growing up meant.
In my mid 30’s I started to regularly wake up around 2 or 3 am feeling restless but also inspired to write. When I first started writing, I was very private about it. Like most writers and artists, I did not have the confidence to even talk about my work let alone share it. Two things happened in 2006 that made me come out of my shell. First I read the biography of Emily Dickinson which encouraged me to stop hiding my poems. Then I attended a Sydney Writers Festival event ‘Writing on Gravestones’ by a group of Iraqi poets and I decided it was difficult but beautiful to share your work. I joined a writing group and have been writing ever since. I now perform my work at festivals, slams, reading groups,schools and exhibition openings.
Here I am eleven years later ready to share my work online. Through the years of sharing my work, some people have asked me for a link to my work or where they can read more. This has encouraged me to take this step even though I believe my work is far from perfect. In many ways, I am also doing this for the memory of my sister Gaye Cosar, our Emily, our most talented writer who passed away before she could publish her work.
If you wait until you think your work is perfect, you could be waiting a long time.
Later can become never!
I hope you engage with my poetry and enjoy some of my poems. I will be writing regularly in my blog so I hope you visit when you can.
Most importantly, I am interested in connecting with you. I hope you could take a few moments to tell me about yourself too.
I would like to share this beautiful poem by Kabir.
There is dew
On these poems in the morning,
And at night a cool breeze may rise from them.
In the winter they are blankets, in the summer a place to swim.
I like talking to you like this.
Have you moved a step closer?
Yours in Poetry