This is the fourth post in the series, Succession II: Queering the Environment, a fourteen-part series in which contributors explore topics related to unruliness, care, and pleasure. Succession II centers queer people, non-humans, systems, and ideas and explores their impact within the fields of environmental history, environmental humanities, and queer ecology.
The following poem is inspired by Cyprus/Kıbrıs/Κύπρος, an island in the Mediterranean sea. Cyprus is associated with heaven for its beautiful natural spaces and its mythological importance as being the birthplace of Aphrodite. Historically Cyprus has been sought after as a strategic base because of its geopolitical position. Throughout history; Venetian, Lusignan, Ottoman, British, and other empires have aimed to control the island.1 Despite the diverse communities living on Cyprus, the island is divided into two, with communities living separately. The island’s capital for both sides is Nicosia, the last divided capital in the world.2 In the middle of Nicosia, there is a historical building called The Great Inn/Büyük Han.3 This building has been used as a guest house, prison, and other purposes and is now a tourist destination where local individuals sell hand crafts. There is a large tree in the centre of its concrete courtyard and the Inn itself is is located in the centre of the island. This poetic work seeks to provide a meditation of the biopolitics of Cyprus from a queer ecological perspective. Bodies, whether non-human or human animals, as well as the tree in the middle of the Inn, explore the blurry line between living and death as well as what lies beyond the human or animal realms, or animacies.4 Instead of using a dualistic perspective to portray the society’s primary aspects, this poem depicts them as a whole, acknowledging that they were once individual bodies that have now become part of a larger whole. The bodies here are unruly. The form of this piece hopes to convey embodiment of wild and queer existence. The Büyük Han’s walls and doors are covered with depictions of bodies, a representation that could reference History of Sexuality in theory, and the contested land in Cyprus in a more material way.5 Even if at first bodies seem to be regulated, they end up becoming more chaotic and wilder by opening a door that leads directly into the wilderness.
They awake on the concrete floor
The floor of the Büyük An / the Great In
Moving like an organism.
Contagious and expanding
Complex in their differences
Alike, not unlike.
Moving parts, moving bodies, moving
They are both moving from one point to the other
But also, they move their parts while moving
Some bodies dismantle the organism
Some bodies are eaten back by the organism
Some bodies dismantle from the organism
Some bodies join back
They are naked!
Naked as one can be
in the middle of the concrete
There is mud covering their bodies
Mud that doesn’t belong to the concrete
Mud that comes from river washed, soil.
Bodies move, bodies touch, bodies catch
Bodies come to limits at Büyük An / the Great In
Limits are supposed to be the doors of others!
Others that were bodies once
Others open the doors
Others are disgusted by those who awake on the concrete floor
the floor of the Büyük An / the Great In
Others are men and women
Others are families with kids
Others are armies
Others are police
Others are teachers
Others are nuns, priests, hodjas and scientists
Others are frightened
Others open the doors
Doors that bodies
Bodies are observed
Bodies are repelled
Bodies don’t matter!
The light shattered
In the middle of the Büyük An / The Great In
There is a lighthouse
A lighthouse in the house that observes others
Others are regulated by the house
House that is called the panopticon
In the middle of the island
Islands are the epicentre of houses
Houses are the epicentre of mundus
Others are regulated
Islands are religated
Bodies are not!
Light turns around
Light brings darkness
The darkness that bodies can escape
They are fugitive bodies
Limits… bodies… don’t obey
Bodies leave the door
The door is the others
that bodies leave.
4. Chen, M. Y. (2012). Animacies. In Animacies. Duke University Press.
5. Foucault, M. (1990). The history of sexuality: An introduction, volume I. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage, 95.