Upcoming Events: Medieval Armenian Poetry; Launch of New Reading Series; Seminarian Life in Istanbul

The Zohrab Information Center is pleased to announce the following upcoming events:

  • ZIC director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen will deliver part 2 of a two-semester public lecture series offered through St. Nersess Armenian Seminary on Medieval Armenian Poetry, with six lectures scheduled for the following Thursday evenings: February 2, 9, 16 and 23, March 2 and 9. All sessions are offered on Zoom from 7 PM – 8 PM. To learn more about the series and for Zoom registration, click here. To watch part 1 of this series on YouTube, click here.
  • Literary Lights,” a reading series featuring new works by Armenian authors organized by the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA), the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), and the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, launches Tuesday, February 8 at 8 PM ET by Zoom with Taleen Voskuni, author of Sorry, Bro. Click here to register. Audience members are invited to read along with the series, which you can become familiar with here.
  • ZIC and St. Leon’s Armenian Church, along with Constantinople Armenian Relief Society (C.A.R.S.), Esayan-Getronagan Alumni Inc., Gomidas Choir, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, and Tibrevank Alumni Inc. are pleased to sponsor an Armenian-language lecture, entitled “Կ. Պոլսոյ Պատրիարքութեան Վանական-Դպրեվանականը Կեանքը” (“Monastic and Seminarian Life within the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople”) by Fr. Harutyun Vartabed Damadyan, with Prof. Roberta Ervine, Dr. Jesse Arlen, and Arthur Ipek, in-person and by Zoom on Friday, February 17 at 7:30pm at St. Leon Armenian Church (12-61 Saddle River Rd, Fair Lawn, NJ 07410). All proceedings will take place in Armenian. Registration requested for in-person and Zoom attendance at: https://bit.ly/Saint-Leon-Monastic-Life-Bolis. To watch on YouTube, click on https://bit.ly/StLeonEvents at the beginning of the program.
  • The reading series “Literary Lights” continues in-person at the Eastern Diocese on Wednesday, March 29th at 7 PM with A Book, Untitled, with author Shushan Avagyan and translator Deanna Cachoian-Schanz, joined by Harvard preceptor on Armenian language and culture Lisa Gulesserian.
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Literary Lights: A Reading Series Featuring New Works by Armenian Authors

The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center along with the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA), and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) will host Literary Lights, a monthly reading series in 2023 featuring new works of literature by Armenian authors. Each event—held from February to December in a mixed online and in-person format—will feature a writer, editor or translator reading from their work, followed by a discussion with an interviewer and audience members. Audience members are invited to read along with the series.

FEBRUARYSorry, Bro by Taleen Voskuni

The reading series will begin with a virtual event on Taleen Voskuni’s Sorry, Bro, a queer romantic comedy in which an Armenian-American woman rediscovers her roots and embraces who she really is. Voskuni, an Armenian-American writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, will be in discussion with JP Der Boghossian, writer, founder of the Queer Armenian Library, and host of This Queer Book Saved My Life. Click here for more information.

MARCH: A Book, Untitled by Shushan Avagyan, translated by Deanna Cachoian-Schanz

In March, we’ll host an in-person event at the Zohrab Information Center in New York on A Book, Untitled by Shushan Avagyan, translated by Deanna Cachoian-Schanz. The book is about an imagined encounter between two early twentieth-century feminist writers, Zabel Yesayan and Shushanik Kurghinian, juxtaposed with a conversation between the author and a friend. Avagyan is a translator, author, and the co-founder of the queer-fem Queering Yerevan Collective in Armenia’s capital. Deanna Cachoian-Schanz is a translator working in the geographies of Armenia, Turkey, and their diasporas, at the intersection of critical, feminist and queer theory, archive and critical race studies. Cachoian-Schanz and Avagyan will engage in conversation with  translator, scholar, and teacher of the Armenian language, Lisa Gulesserian (Cover design by Cinzia D’Emidio).

APRIL: We Are All Armenian edited by Aram Mrjoian

In April, the series will highlight We Are All Armenian: Voices from the Diaspora edited by Aram Mrjoian, with both in-person and virtual events. We Are All Armenian is a groundbreaking collection of personal essays exploring the multilayered realities of life in the Armenian diaspora. Mrjoian, who will moderate both events, is an author, editor-at-large at the Chicago Review of Books, and an associate fiction editor at Guernica. Click here for more information.

MAY: American Wildflowers edited by Susan Barba

In May, we will host Susan Barba, editor of American Wildflowers: A Literary Field Guide. This anthology is filled with classic and contemporary poems and essays inspired by wildflowers—perfect for writers, artists, and botanists alike. Barba is the author of the poetry collections Fair Sun (2017) and geode (2020), and an editor at New York Review Books based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Barba will discuss the anthology with Jesse Arlen, a writer, researcher and Director of the Zohrab Center. Click here for more information.

JUNE: The Book of Redacted Paintings by Arthur Kayzakian

In June, we present Arthur Kayzakian’s The Book of Redacted Paintingserasure-ekphrasis poems about a boy in search of his father’s painting, which may or may not exist. The collection won the inaugural 2021 Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series award and was selected as a finalist for the 2021 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. Kayzakian will also discuss his forthcoming chapbook, My Burning City, which integrates the author’s personal history during the Iranian Revolution, his family’s migration to the United States, and the state of living in America as a displaced, bilingual Iranian-Armenian. Kayzakian is an author, teacher, IALA Poetry Chair and Board Member, and a Contributing Editor at Poetry International.

SEPTEMBER: The Fear of Large and Small Nations by Nancy Agabian

The Fear of Large and Small Nations

The series will resume with an event on Nancy Agabian’s The Fear of Large and Small Nations, a contemporary story of an abusive relationship between a queer couple, set between the Armenian homeland and diaspora. The novel was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. An activist, teacher and IALA Board Member, Agabian is the author of Princess Freak (2000), the first collection of poems and performance texts by a bisexual Armenian-American, and Me as Her Again: True Stories of an Armenian Daughter (2008), finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Nonfiction and shortlisted for a William Saroyan International Prize.

OCTOBER: The Institute for Other Intelligences by Mashinka Firunts Hakopian

The reading series will conclude with an event on Mashinka Firunts Hakopian’s The Institute for Other Intelligences, which chronicles the transcription of a symposium at a fictive institute where machine intelligences convene annually for lectures and training on algorithmic justice.  Hakopian is a Yerevan-born, Glendale-based writer, artist, researcher, teacher, IALA Advisory Board Member, and a Contributing Editor for Art Papers and ASAP/J. Click here for more information.

Dr. Jesse Arlen’s Medieval Armenian Poetry Lecture Series on YouTube

Zohrab postdoctoral fellow and director Dr. Jesse Arlen’s medieval Armenian poetry lectures, offered through the St. Nersess Armenian Seminary Fall public lecture series, are available to stream on YouTube.

Part 1 consisted of six lectures, and included material on sharagans (hymns), taghs (odes), and other genres of sacred liturgical song, biblical epic, penitential poetry, and laments over the capture of cities.

A bibliography accompanying the series is available here.

The videos are available below:

Lecture 1 – The Lay of the Land
Lecture 2: The Sharakan and the Origin of Sacred Poetry
Lecture 3 – Sacred Song at Narek Monastery: Gandz, Tagh, and Meghedi
Lecture 4 – Penitential Poetry: Narek and its Heirs
Lecture 5 – Biblical Epic: Grigor Magistros, Nersēs Shnorhali, and Aṛakʿel of Siwnik
Lecture 6 – Laments for the Fall of Cities and Other Calamities

Part 2 of this lecture series will continue as part of the St. Nersess Spring Public Lecture series.

Check their website for upcoming dates, details, and a Zoom link: https://stnersess.edu/global-classroom/live-presentations/

This Giving Tuesday Buy a Book for the Zohrab Center’s Library

Today on “Giving Tuesday” purchase a book for the Zohrab Information Center’s research library.

The Zohrab Information Center is a research and teaching facility and cultural center that promotes the full range of Armenian studies and assists students, scholars, the Armenian community, and general public in deepening their appreciation for Armenian history, civilization, and culture, especially within their overwhelmingly Christian ambit. 

At the core of this mission stands the vast collection of Armenian printed material in our library, which is one of the best in the Western hemisphere thanks to generous support and donations.

Help us expand our holdings of recent books published in Armenian studies by buying a book (or two or three!) to add to our library. We have compiled a wish list of books on Amazon.

Ship to:
Jesse Arlen
Zohrab Information Center
630 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10016

Let us know how you would like your donation to be noted on the book and in our catalog:

option 1: “Donated by NAME”
option 2: “Donated by NAME in memory of NAME”

Note: After you purchase the book it will automatically be removed from the list, so as to avoid duplicate purchases from multiple donors.

For questions, email: zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org

First Volume in a New Publication Series: An Early-Eighteenth-Century Hmayil (Armenian Prayer Scroll)

The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center is pleased to announce the release of the first volume in a new publication series, entitled Sources from the Armenian Christian Tradition, which provides the Krapar text and English translation of Armenian Christian sources in an attractive digital e-book format.

The inaugural volume in this series is: An Early-Eighteenth-Century Hmayil (Armenian Prayer Scroll): Introduction, Facsimile, Transcription and Annotated Translation by Matthew J. Sarkisian, edited and with a foreword by Jesse S. Arlen (New York, NY: Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, 2022).

Over a year and a half in the making, this volume brings to life a fascinating artifact from the early modern period: a talismanic prayer scroll known as a hmayil, which was a popular and widespread medium in use among Armenians from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries.

This new e-book offers the reader the opportunity to digitally “unroll” this mesmerizing prayer scroll from beginning to end, thereby discovering a rich panoply of prayers, Scriptural passages, incantations, and illuminations.

Tolle lege! Ա՛ռ ընթերցի՛ր։

Sources from the Armenian Christian Tradition

Dr. Jesse Arlen’s Zoom lecture series on Medieval Armenian Poetry Begins Tonight

Tonight at 7:00pm ET by Zoom Zohrab Center director Dr. Jesse Arlen will deliver the first lecture in a two-semester series offered through St. Nersess Armenian Seminary’s Public Lecture Series, entitled, “An Introduction to Medieval Armenian Poetry.”

Part I of this series will consist of six lectures delivered on the following dates: Oct 20, Nov 3, Nov 10, Nov 17, Dec 1, Dec 8.

Register for the Zoom meetings here:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUoc-mtqT0jEtV7-sBO9Pp1p21bqCFrJTYR

Series Description

After the invention of the Armenian alphabet in the fifth century, the early centuries of Armenian literature are dominated by prose: theological and philosophical treatises, histories, hagiographies, commentaries, and the like. Nevertheless, the premodern Armenian literary tradition also boasts a vast and dazzling array of poetic texts, which are generally less well known to scholars and novices alike. This two-semester public lecture series will introduce the medieval Armenian poetic tradition, including sharagans, odes, lyrics, laments, poetic prayers, as well as love and wisdom poetry. This vast array of material spanning over ten centuries was composed both in the classical literary idiom as well as a form of the language closer to the vernacular, known as middle Armenian. Attention will also be paid to interchange and contact with neighboring literary and poetic traditions, such as Greek, Persian, and Arabic.

Reminder: Dr. Russell’s Medzarents Lecture Tomorrow by Zoom

Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7:00pm ET, Harvard emeritus Prof. James R. Russell will speak on the life and work of Misak Medzarents on Zoom. Advance registration is required at the following link: https://bit.ly/3fImtlK

This talk will draw on Dr. Russell’s recent publication, Misak Medzarents: The Complete Lyric Poems (Armenian Series no. 12. The Press at California State University, Fresno, 2020), a translation and commentary of Medzarents’ complete poetic works, the first of its kind in any foreign language.

You may read a review of the book by Zohrab Center director, Dr. Jesse Arlen, at this link.

The book is available for purchase from the NAASR bookstore or Abril Books.

Dr. Russell’s Misak Medzarents Lecture Now by Zoom

The October 19th lecture by Harvard emeritus Prof. James R. Russell on the life and work of Misak Medzarents will now take place on Zoom only. Advance registration is required at the following link: https://bit.ly/3fImtlK

This talk will draw on Dr. Russell’s recent publication, Misak Medzarents: The Complete Lyric Poems (Armenian Series no. 12. The Press at California State University, Fresno, 2020), a translation and commentary of Medzarents’ complete poetic works, the first of its kind in any foreign language.

You may read a review of the book by Zohrab Center director, Dr. Jesse Arlen, at this link.

The book is available for purchase from the NAASR bookstore or Abril Books.

Book Talk: The Poetry of Misak Medzarents by Dr. James R. Russell

Come to the Zohrab Center to learn from Harvard University Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies (Emeritus), Dr. James R. Russell: he will speak about the life and work of the great Western Armenian lyric poet, Misak Medzarents. 

The lecture will take place in-person at the Zohrab Information Center on Wednesday, October 19th, 2022 at 7:00pm ET.

This talk will draw on Dr. Russell’s recent publication, Misak Medzarents: The Complete Lyric Poems (Armenian Series no. 12. The Press at California State University, Fresno, 2020), a translation and commentary of Medzarents’ complete poetic works, the first of its kind in any foreign language.

You may read a review of the book by Zohrab Center director, Dr. Jesse Arlen, at this link.

The book is available for purchase from the NAASR bookstore or Abril Books.