When the phone rang quite early in the morning last Thursday and Nevfel Cumart reported from the ICE to Frankfurt, the surprise was great.
Not that there would otherwise be no contact by phone or email, after all Nevfel Cumart writes a book review for our culture portal alaturka from time to time, but this time there was something in his voice that conveyed joy and need at the same time. Spontaneously and without further ado, we made an appointment for the early afternoon in Würzburg at the main train station, where he wanted to briefly interrupt his return journey from one of his school events as a mediator between the cultures.
Since 1984, Nevfel Cumart has been conducting individual events and literary readings at schools of all kinds and throughout Germany, dealing with various topics such as the living situation and problems of foreigners in Germany ("At Home Abroad"), religion and culture in Islam (»Between McDonalds and Minaret«) or the social life in Turkey (»From the Bosphorus to Ararat«). Here he attaches great importance to conversation and discussion with and between the individual students. Above all, he is concerned with bringing other cultures closer to young people and conveying an understanding of what is culturally foreign.
The really spontaneous appointment was just right for us, too, as we had to prepare and discuss the German-Turkish Literature and Friendship Festival planned for mid-October in Regensburg, in which Nevfel Cumart is also a speaker. So we were doubly excited for what was to come. So let's go to the main station in Würzburg.
As always, the joy of meeting was great, no question. He is a modest and kind person anyway. And how well we still remember his statement in Johannisburg Castle in Aschaffenburg, when he told us in conversation after his reading that in Germany you can't win a flower pot with poems. Maybe he's right, it's certainly not easy in the field of culture. Commitment and the will to create are therefore particularly admirable.
Our last meeting in Würzburg, which was also spontaneous, had taken us to a small café near the main train station, so we quickly made the decision to try it there again. Once seated at the table, the subject immediately became reports on the latest events of our tour project, such as the Gezi concert with Fazil Say in Vienna and the meeting with the archaeologist team in Stobi in Macedonia. A little later we were also on the progress of the planned festival in Regensburg and were able to quickly reach an agreement with Nevfel Cumart regarding the scheduling.
The big surprise now followed in the modest, friendly manner so typical of Nevfel Cumart that one has to ask again first. For example, in the following wording: "Yes, well, that's how we do it, by the way, next week I will also receive the Federal Cross of Merit from President Gauck". How, what, Federal Cross of Merit? Now it was our turn to ask questions and in the end, we could only congratulate them. We were really happy for him because he more than deserved it.
Our heartiest congratulations, Nevfel Cumart!
Here is the official press release and justification from Berlin:
Nevfel Cumart - Cross of Merit Award on July 10, 2014
The German-born poet of Turkish origin has made understanding between different cultures and religions his life's work. Already in his youth he became a bridge builder between Germans and Turks with an initiative founded in Stade (Lower Saxony).
He is now involved in a variety of ways, including in the field of literature, e.g. in the New Society for Literature (NGL) in Erlangen and in the Association of Writers (VS) in Upper Franconia.
In his literary work, which so far comprises 16 volumes of poetry, he has published numerous poems that deal with the mediation between the worlds and have found their way into school books throughout Europe.
Nevfel Cumart has also been translating numerous works of fiction by well-known Turkish writers and books on Islamic studies for many years.
He is familiar with the difficulties involved in forming an identity, which is why he organizes readings and writing workshops in schools that provide little contact with literature and other cultural works. In addition to events in schools, he does mediation work with lectures and seminars on various aspects of Turkish society and culture, the living conditions of migrants in Germany and the religion of Islam.
He is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Georges Anawati Foundation, which works to promote dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
Nevfel Cumart has made an outstanding contribution to the integration of immigrants and good cooperation in our society through his work and his voluntary commitment to various projects.
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