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Vâlâ Nureddin wrote what Mustafa Kemal said to them in his book named Bu Dünyadan Nâzım Geçti:
"Without requiring cliché words, Mustafa Kemal came to the point which was very important for us. He said,
"'In order to be modern, some young poets write theme-less poems. I advise you to write poetry with an aim'. He was clearly inclined to further talk but a few men approached and handed him a telegram. When he glanced at it, he became interested in the telegram and left us with a salute of the hand."
After a short while they were appointed to Bolu as teachers.
Ziya Hilmi, deputy head of the criminal court, protected these two young teachers, who wore fur caps and did not go to the mosque, against the notables and religious groups that were not very accepting of them. Ziya Hilmi was an educated and intellectual person and talked about the French Revolution, Lenin, Kautsky, and so on, to them and offered them to go and see the Soviet Union.
With the effect of Ziya Hilmi, Hikmet and Vâlâ Nureddin, who had been thinking of going to either Paris or Berlin, decided to go to Moscow to get a better education anNâzım d to see what was happening in the world. And also they understood that they could not stay in Bolu longer because of the rather conservative environment and the activities of the secret police. In August 1921, they left Bolu as if going east to serve as teachers near Kazım Karabekir Pasha; they sailed from Zonguldak to Trabzon and then from Trabzon to Batum. They travelled by ship and they reached Batum in 21 September 1921.
Thus the two young poets went to the Soviet Union and attended the Communist University of Eastern Labourers (KUTV).
Nâzım Hikmet knew a kind of free metre of Turkish poetry called "serbest müstezat" and the free verse of French poetry. He was interested in a poem printed in the "Izvestia" newspaper which had been written in the step form (alternating short and long verses) by most probably Mayakovski but he had not understood the concept because he did not know Russian yet. On the way to Moscow they passed through the regions where starvation was rampant. With the effect of what he had been seen, Nâzım Hikmet began to write "Açların Gözbebekleri" (The Pupils of the Hungry) but saw that he could not use the syllabic form. So he decided to write more free verse pursuing the form he had seen in "Izvestia". Thus he invented a new free form which was partly in syllabic metre but mostly irregular.
Under the influence of the sensitivity and ideology he encountered in this new world, he wrote numerous poems in free verse. After learning Russian he started to read the young Soviet poets who wrote by disregarding the values of the past within the revolutionist environment. They were young revolutionary poets who were under the influence of Futurism which had been started by Marinetti in Italy, had seen everything in the future by denying the past.
Nâzım Hikmet wanted to return to his country after graduation from the university in 1923. Some of his poems which had been written in this period had been printed in periodicals such as "Yeni Hayat", "Aydınlık", etc. As he had done when leaving the country, he returned to Turkey by crossing border secretly in 1924. He started to work at "Aydınlık"
When he understood that he was followed by police, he went to Izmir to set up a press. There, he would be far away from the police. In 1925 because of the break-out of the Sheikh Said Rebellion, the curfew law was in effect and some of the newspapers and periodicals were censored, shut down, and most of the writers of the Aydınlık environment were arrested due to an article printed on 1 May 1925. Nâzım Hikmet was sentenced to 15 years in prison in absentia at the end of court hearings at the Ankara State Independence Court in 12 August 1925.
Thereupon, Nâzım Hikmet came to Istanbul from Izmir in the middle of June and then secretly proceeded to the Soviet Union once again.
When he learned that his sentence came under coverage of the Amnesty proclaimed for the anniversary of the Republic, in 1926 he applied to the Turkish Consulate to obtain a passport to return to Turkey legally.
But he did not receive a response even though he applied repeatedly. By this time, on 28 September 1927, he was sentenced to 3 months in prison in absentia again upon being charged with membership in an illegal party depending on a declaration that had been distributed in Istanbul.
He waited nearly one and a half years before he fully realised that he would never get the passport. In this period he published his first book named "Güneşi Içenlerin Türküsü" (Song of Those That Drink of the Sun) in Baku in 1928.
In July in the same year he entered Turkey secretly by passing through the Caucasian border in order to seek acquittal from sentences passed in his absence. He and a friend, Laz İsmail, were arrested passing the border without legal permit and with false passports.
Before being shipped to Rize for court hearing, the two friends stayed in a sunless, airless and dark jail for nearly two months along with the villager prisoners in Hopa. The shipment of the two friends from Hopa to Rize brought the end of their prison term. The penalty for passing the border without papers was three days in prison whereas they had already served more. So they should have been acquitted.
But because the correspondence inquiring after other crime and accrued penalties would take long, it was decided that they be sent to Ankara.
Their being brought to Istanbul handcuffed on 4 October 1928 was criticised in the newspapers. The court in Istanbul decided that it would be more appropriate to send them to Ankara where all claims against them would be joined under one trial.
The press again started to criticise clearly this dishonourable practice. The point of criticism was that while there was general amnesty proclaimed and all prisoners were freed, they were being sent, handcuffed from place to place. But the criticism had no effect. Nâzım Hikmet and Laz İsmail, handcuffed, were finally sent to Ankara on 14 October 1928 and immediately were interrogated and arrested.
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