I was excited to discover this poem. Not only does it have a connection to Istanbul (my new “home” in one week!) but it is also has an animal at its core. (#mylifeisabestiary).
Its three stanzas correspond to the components of a medieval bestiary: the description of the beast, the intertextual, and the lesson. (I’m still puzzling, however, over the lesson.)
Its connection to an older form heightens the poem’s images and language. All work in tandem to evoke a mysterious and exotic world.
Only in a summer in a palace
The Turkish guidebook labels
The Convent of the Whirling Dervishes
“A Snail in Istanbul” introduced me to the poetry of James Sutherland-Smith. I discovered he has a nomadic nature. Originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, Sutherland-Smith now lives in Slovakia. You can read more of his poetry at