Cognitive Poetics and Common Ground in a Multicultural Context: The Poetry of Zehra Çirak


  • The author thanks Maren Linett, Howard Mancing, and James Rolleston, as well as the graduate students in her 2009 seminar on cognitive approaches to women's writing, for their valuable insights on this essay at various stages of its development.


This essay explores how a cognitive-literary approach offers valuable tools for interpreting multicultural poetry. By considering the poetry of Zehra Çirak through the lens of selected cognitive-poetic principles, it becomes clear that this approach allows for a balanced focus on both the universal and the culturally specific elements of her work. Rather than directly addressing the author's ethnicity, or issues of Turkish-German identity, many of Çirak's poems instead invite the reader to take on the role of outsider or Other, serving as a reminder that everyone and everything becomes “foreign” when placed in unfamiliar contexts. A cognitive-poetic examination of conceptual metaphors, image schemas and prototypes, deixis, and the construction of text worlds in her poetry sheds light on the ways in which Çirak creates common ground for readers of diverse backgrounds.