Hi, I’m Neriman! A writer, teacher, researcher, mindfulness advocate, life-long traveller and a book lover.
I grew up reading such geniuses as Ömer Seyfettin, Louisa May Alcott, Eleanor H. Porter, Jules Verne, and Evliya Çelebi. Then did a PhD in Contemporary Global Anglophone Literature.
I live with my cat Vivi who can’t stand traveling. But we are trying to figure it out.
“…we have to grope our way through so much filth and rubbish in order to reach home! And we have no one to show us the way. Homesickness is our only guide.”-Steppenwolf, Herman Hesse
As a self-proclaimed hyphenated spirit, I’ve dedicated my life to exploring what it means to be home. Growing up in Turkey and living in Europe and the U.S. have brought me closer to finding an answer to the complex question of home. Or so I thought.
In his essay, “Minimal Selves,” Stuart Hall writes that every migrant is accustomed to two questions: “Why are you here?” and “When are you going back home?” The answer to the first question comes easily: for education? to better my life? political asylum?… what have you. The second question, however, is a turning point in every migrant’s life because the migrant, possibly for the first time, confronts the fact that there is no answer to it. “Migration,” Hall writes, “is a one way trip. There is no ‘home’ to go back to” (44).
I would also add: once one leaves, there is no home to go back to even if one returns.
This complex notion of home is the point of departure for my research on diaspora literature in general and Muslim writing in particular. I’m beyond excited about my research and the cultural and sociopolitical possibilities that it opens up. But I want my posts here to be concise and explorative. I want theory and research to be accessible and meaningful. My hope is to bridge the gap between theory and popular discourse and to offer insight into the powerful connection between fiction and truth.
I will be writing about my travels, my ongoing exploration of ‘home,’ and all the wonderful books that are helping me shift my perception about home, identity, and what it means to belong.
(Maybe a few posts about my cat Vivi too)
(You’re right. I’m joking)
Currently, I post “a quotable” blog that is brief and thought-provoking at the beginning of each week and a longer reflection on books, music, all things literary, or on life at the end of the week.
I’ve also participated in the Year of the Middle Eastern and Unapologetically Muslim reading challenges this year, which means I will be writing about a Middle Eastern/Muslim book/writer every month. You can read more about my approach to this challenge here.
What is it about the olive tree?
The title of my page is inspired by my upbringing. Although I grew up in the city, my grandparents had a summer house right across Greece in the beautiful Aegean. Starting at the age of six, I spent every summer in the sun by the sea among olive trees. I am thirty-one now as I write this blurb, and this tradition hasn’t changed at all. In fact, last summer I spent my mornings reading and writing at a cozy coffee shop outside under the shade of olive and fig trees. The sun, the sea, the smell of thyme and oregano, grapevines, and olive trees all remind me of home, well, … all are home.
Feel free to drop me a line, say hi, and/or share your thoughts–I’m enjoying the wonderful discussions I’ve been having with other readers and writers here!
teaching + writing
Whether I am teaching literature, principles of writing, or English as a Second Language, my courses are by a multidisciplinary cultural studies approach that incorporates student-centered, critical inquiry-based methods.
Over the past six years of teaching in a variety of contexts and at a range of levels, experience has taught me that becoming a good writer requires sharp reading and critical thinking skills. I view the classroom as an inclusive site where analytic thinking, reading, and writing skills develop together. The classroom is also a point of intervention—a symbolic space where we begin to perceive words and ideas not as passive signifiers but as terministic screens through which historical, political, and sociocultural realities are constructed.
From 2009-2011, I served as an ELS instructor to children and young adults in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2013, I taught ELS to adults at American Cultural Language School in Istanbul. I have been teaching literature, composition, and professional writing at the University of Missouri since 2015. Since 2019, I have also been working as a writing consultant at the University of Missouri-Writing Center.
As a writer, researcher, instructor, and a writing consultant, I emphasize writing as a process intimately linked to revision, “reseeing,” and “rethinking,” and that all revision must start with the “bone-muscle-skin” approach in Peter Elbow’s phrase.