Judy Light Ayyildiz

Educator, Author, Speaker, Workshop Leader

Selected Works

Poetry, Fiction, & Nonfiction
Anthology includes excerpts from three of my published books: MUD RIVER, INTERVALS, APPALACHIA TO ISTANBUL, and FORTY THORNS
Front Cover Art work copyright permission for use by K. Kamal Ayyildiz “Foreword” to works by Dr. Erin Webster Garrett, Professor at Radford University
“Unforced and authentic, which is pretty rare today.”
–-William Packard, NYQ Review
a NOVEL based on an oral biography of a Turkish woman of the past century placed in a historical frame
This novel is a history of Turkey from 1900 to the present, from the sultanate to the republic, of wars, revolutions and the changes within a nation, of a family and of a woman, a saga, a love story between a man and woman and a woman with her country.
Spiritual strength from moving, insightful, yet humorous stories of the people and experiences in Judy's life.
Fiction and Nonfiction, Children Ages 6-12
An American grandson of a Turkish immigrant learns about his Turkish and Ottoman heritage.

Mud River


WILLIAM PACKARD--distinguished poet, editor of the NEW YORK QUARTERLY, professor of Poetry at New York University--when asked his opinion of MUD RIVER, wrote:

"There's something here that is unforced and authentic, which is pretty rare today. It's all in Ayyildiz's diction--plain style, pure lyric sounds of memory in taut lines, rural detail images, no false word choices, no rhetoric, no fake "poetry". It's "easy as Irish whisky in /​ tumblers of tea"--and it's also a remarkably original approach to onomatopoeia: "waves wallop, plop-wallop". It's in these lines of WINTER LIGHTS:

She cranes, her cat eyes listening
to ripples of wind, catches the rough
hand towing her out,
feels a faint taste of salt
green on her lips.

It's also in these lines of MIDDLE OF THE TENTH:

Full of himself,
he laughs at five kittens batting sun dust.

And it's in these lines of REQUIEM /​ AUSCHWITZ:

Three million
candles cannot rekindle even one
bright eye gone ash out that furious
tunnel into night.

It's something very firm and incisive and real, and it deserves to be published and made available to a wide readership."

--William Packard 1988

Mother-and-Son Poetry Powerhouse

"I'm of course referring to the Ayyildiz family of Virginia and the gift of poetry with which they are blessed!

Judy Light Ayyildiz, who I believe currently is writing her first novel, is a poet of exquisite sensitivity. Is it a wonder that her son Kevin Kamal took after her? I have a feeling these things run in the family.

Mud River, a fine volume (her third) of liquid gold by Judy Ayyildiz, is one of those books in my library that I go to for inspiration and sheer aesthetic pleasure. It is illustrated by her poet-artist son Kevin Kamal.

Judy Ayyildiz, the winner of many literary awards, is a founding member of the Blue Ridge Writers Conference and an editor of Artemis.

Here is one of her shorter poems from Mud River:


maybe it's because the old man's thrown so many
burdens across the backs of beasts
in his gambles with the fields
flinging seeds like dice that
his eyes sag into pouches
slung like saddlebags
over the bruised
brim of his nose

* * *

Also make sure you check out her Nothing but Time, the inspirational story of her struggle with Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

But here I must mention Kevin Kamal Ayyildiz' relatively recent poem, "The Cistern, Sultanahmet" as well (published in the Winter/​Spring 2003 issue of Turkuaz).What a poem! The kind that makes you say 'I wish I'd written that...' while you try to hold back that ocean heaving up your throat. In this poem Kamal is approaching the fabric of Istanbul with the heart of a Turkish-American and yet all the objectivity of a sharp camera. The result is nothing less than mesmerizing."
Ugur Akinci, Editor, TURKISH TORQUE

“Mud River is a lot of fun--and how often do we get to recommend poetry with that engaging phrase?

The reasons seem to be that she has fun writing poetry, and her pleasure in it carries over to her readers. In a poem called ‘Addicted,’ she speaks of the joy of composition. ‘I’ll get it any way I can,’ she says, ‘...and I care less/​as long as there’s a hangover/​from this week’s dive/​into ink.’

Ayyildiz tackles a number of extremely serious subjects: Auschwitz, the death of a friend, mental breakdown, conditions in Poland and so forth. The poem, ‘Palmistry’ is a wistful, even a sad poem, but the easiness of the language communicates deftly a woman’s foreboding when her lover departs momentarily: ‘I/​feel your palms smeared/​on my flesh. I can’t/​read much, only that/​ your heartline’s left/​some hairline cuts.’

...energy, wit, humor, variety, surprise and some unexpected profound feeling. The poet’s loyalties are especially admirable. It’s a good book to read and to own, and I hope that Judy is as proud of it as she ought to be.
--Fred Chappell, Novelist, Poet, Essayist, Critic,
NCU Professor


Auschwitz 1985

Forty years of winds have not cleared the air
Laden with unfinished chains, minor modes
That steel against the grain of brick
And mortar made as sanctum for the massive
freight. “Arbeit macht frei,” words
In the gate. Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine.

An iron slab rolls back into the crematorium,
The host is heaved upon it. Three million
Candles cannot rekindle even one
Bright eye gone ash out that furious
Tunnel into night.
Hair spins into blankets, tons of twisted
Threads genuflect. All sorts, sizes of unpaired
Shoes pile empty against the wall,
Strings tied upon the tongues.
Kyrie eleison, Lord, have mercy, boxcar
Loads. –- Sanctus. Sanctus
Freezing flesh huddled in the courtyard.
In the guts of a gray building,
A three-foot cubicle confined three. One
Etched an eagle in the corner
With a nail, a final litany. Amen.

Forty years of rains have not cleansed
The firing block. Fresh flowers laid
Against the boards burn
Their incense. Sun cuts through
The gallows noose. The horseless cart
Stands steady on the hard earth.
--Judy Light Ayyildiz

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