Oktay Rifat Horozcu, better known as Oktay Rifat, (10 June 1914 – 18 April 1988) was a Turkish writer and playwright, and one of the forefront poets of modern Turkish poetry since the late 1930s. He was the founder of the Garip movement, together with Orhan Veli and Melih Cevdet.
Oktay Rifat had a great influence on modern Turkish poetry, standing outside traditional poetic conventions and creating a new movement.
Oktay Rifat was born on 10 June 1914 in the city of Trabzon, son of poet and linguist Samih Rifat Horozcu, who was also governor of Trabzon.
He graduated from Ankara Erkek Lisesi (Ankara Highschool) in 1932, and completed a Bachelor of Law from the University of Ankara. He was appointed to Paris, France by the State Ministry to do his PhD, however came back after three years without completing his degree due to outbreak of World War II.
He moved to Istanbul in 1955, and started to work as a legal adviser for the Turkish State Railways in 1961. He retired in 1973, and died in Istanbul on 18 April 1988. He was interred at Karacaahmet Cemetery in Üsküdar district of Istanbul.
Oktay Rifat started writing poetry as a high school student, and his first poems were published between 1936 and 1944 in the literature journal Varlık (Existence).
In 1941, together with his friends Orhan Veli Kanık and Melih Cevdet Anday, he published the famous book Garip, which formed the first example of the Garip, or 'Strange' movement.
His poems, which use all the richness of his native Turkish language, include Karga ile Tilki (The Crow and the Fox), for which he won the Yeditepe Poetry Prize in 1955. His work rejected older, complex forms, favouring simplicity and fresh rhythms.
Oktay Rifat also published novels such as Bir Kadının Penceresinden (Through a Woman’s Window) and Danaburnu (Calf Nose), theatre plays such as Kadınlar Arasında (Among Women, first staged in 1948) and translated older works into Turkish from Latin and Greek.
- 1954 Yeditepe Poetry Award - for Karga ile Tilki
- 1970 Türkish Language Institute Poetry Award - for his book Şiirler (Poems)
- 1970 Ankara ArtLovers Foundation Best Play of the Year and TRT Art Awards Competition Best Talent Award for his theatre play called Yağmur Sıkıntısı (Oppressive Air)
- 1980 Sedat Simavi Foundation Award - for poetry in the book Bir Cigara İçimi (Smoking a Cigarette)
- 1984 Necatigil Poetry Award- for his book Dilsiz ve Çıplak' (Mute and Naked)
- 1980 Madaralı Roman Award - for his novel Danaburnu