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Cathryn Turhan performs 'Jubilation'



"I come from a very diverse family – my father’s side is 2nd Generation Turkish living in Germany, while my mother’s is 2nd generation Jewish German living in London," explains Cathryn. "Family, and the richness of my heritage, has been a constant source of inspiration to me. Rather strangely, Christmas has always been a lynchpin in the family calendar owing to my romantic British Grandfather, and my musically gifted, lapsed Catholic Stepdad. This poem is a celebration of how we ‘do’ the holiday differently, and the people who come and go over time. The title comes from the song ‘Cecilia’ by Simon and Garfunkel, which is a song we sing every year."

On her time at Warwick, Cathryn says, "I was lucky to take ‘The Practice of Poetry’ module while studying a Classics degree. The way the module was formatted meant we felt like a collective of writers sharing an incredible experience, rather than students who were there to be lectured at. David Morley taught us to see the Writers Room as a second home on campus. I remember once having the space all to myself with a fellow writer, and we spent the whole day creating new poems, analysing each other’s work and helping each other to become better poets while drinking tea and listening to R.E.M. You just didn’t get that kind of creative space in any other module, or on any other degree programme."

"My time at Warwick was intensely political – we witnessed the first generation of 9K fees, there were two general elections, and students responded to that with anger and with creativity. I was lucky enough to lead the Union through one of its most important years, and one of its most political – its 50th anniversary. However, I feel very lucky to not only be a name on the Union President’s board, but also to be remembered as one of Warwick’s poets, too."


Cathryn TurhanWe pronounce Christmas ‘Weihnachtstag
in Balham. It’s not the smell of mince pies
but candle wax. Smoke. Evergreen
that pricks my mother’s fingers, almost singed.

It’s not the sound of ‘Jingle Bells’,
Mariah warbling in velveteen but
‘Cecilia’ round the table.
A guitar. My uncle plays the recorder

To ‘Moonshadow’, ‘Mustang Sally’
songs on Fairytales or Making Me Smile,
someone will share a clementine
they found in a sock, made by a cousin.

It’s not the look of family
completed by generations. We lost
one, so it seems, but at Christmas
I’m sure they are there. Smiling. Tapping feet.

Cathryn Turhan graduated from Warwick in 2013 with a BA in Classics. Following that, she served as a sabbatical officer for two years in the Students’ Union – one year as Welfare and Campaigns Officer (2013-2014) and the other as President of the Union (2014-2015). She is currently living and writing in Munich.