Join the Zohrab Information Center and the International Armenian Literary Alliance for an in-person literary evening on August 23, 2022 at 7:00 pm ET, to hear Armenian writers read from their short stories, novels, poetry and nonfiction.
Readers include Aida Zilelian, Alan Semerdjian, Garen Torikian, Jesse Arlen, Lola Koundakjian, Nadia Owusu, Nancy Agabian, Nancy Kricorian, and Olivia Katrandjian. A wine and cheese reception will follow.
At Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10016
In the first week, UCLA Western Armenian professor Dr. Hagop Kouloujian discussed Tenny Arlen’s linguistic and creative journey, from growing up with no Armenian knowledge until the age of 20 when she began an intensive study of Armenian language and literature at UCLA and soon after began composing original poetry of her own. The poems discussed in the first session touched on themes of creativity, language, the power of speech, and poetics.
Last week the discussion was led by Dr. Jesse Arlen around a series of poems relating to themes such as solitude, speech and silence, the individual vs. the crowd, isolation and connection.
The discussion of this week’s readings will be led by Dr. Christopher Sheklian, a postdoctoral research fellow at Radboud University and the former director of the Zohrab Information Center.
Հայ լեզուի խնդիրը (էջ 19) | The Problem of the Armenian Language (p. 8) Տեղատուութիւն եւ մակընթացութիւն (էջ 22–23) | Ebb and Flow (p. 10) Մտմտալով (էջ 38–39) | Musing (p. 18) Հին ու նոր (էջ 48–49) | Old and New (p. 24) Լոյս (էջ 58–59) | Light (p. 29) Յուշագրութիւններ (էջ 71–79) | Memoirs (p. 36–40) Մեռելածին (էջ 82–88) | Stillborn (p. 43–46)
Last week UCLA Western Armenian professor Dr. Hagop Kouloujian discussed Tenny Arlen’s linguistic and creative journey, from growing up with no Armenian knowledge until the age of 20 when she then began an intensive study of Armenian language and literature at UCLA and soon after began composing original poetry of her own. The three poems discussed last week touched on themes of creativity, language, the power of speech, and poetics.
The discussion of this week’s readings will be led by Dr. Jesse Arlen, director of the Zohrab Information Center and the late poet’s older brother.
Բառեր (էջ 12–13) | Words (p. 4–5) Արծաթէ սանդուխը (էջ 14–15) | The Silver Staircase (p. 6) Զարթնում (էջ 20–21) | Awaking (p. 9) Մեծ քաղաքը (էջ 32–33) | The Big City (p. 15) Մշուշ (էջ 36–37) | Mist (p. 17) Երազ (էջ 56–57) | Dream (p. 28) Պատուհան (էջ 62–63) | Window (p. 31)
Tonight’s session, the first in a 5-week series meeting on Thursday evenings at 7:00pm (June 23–July 21), will be led by Dr. Hagop Kouloujian, professor of Western Armenian language and literature at UCLA, who was Tenny’s Armenian language teacher and wrote the afterword to the book. Readings and discussion will take place in Armenian and English.
The Zohrab Center is hosting a dual language summer reading group around Tenny Arlen’s newly published volume of poetry To Say With Passion: Why Am I Here? (Կիրքով ըսելու՝ ինչո՞ւ հոս եմ, Yerevan: ARI Literature Foundation, 2021), which will meet by Zoom on the five Thursday evenings between June 23–July 21 at 7:00pm ET. Each session will be led by a different facilitator, around a cluster of poems from the volume. Readings and discussion will take place in both Armenian and English. The schedule and reading list is below.
With no prior knowledge of Armenian, Tenny began taking Western Armenian classes in 2011 at UCLA with Prof. Hagop Kouloujian. Over the next two years, she began to compose her own poetry in the classes, and with Prof. Kouloujian’s assistance was preparing a book of verse, before her untimely death in a car accident in 2015 at age 24, just before beginning her doctoral program in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan.
Session 1: Thursday, June 23 with Prof. Hagop Kouloujian(Professor of Western Armenian Language and Literature, UCLA) Reading List: Յետգրութիւն այս գիրքի մասին (էջ 107–118) | Afterword about this book (p. 54–61) Գիշեր (էջ 7) | Night (p. 1) Բանաստեղծութիւն (էջ 8–9) | Poetry (p. 2) Պատումը (էջ 10–11) | The Narration (p. 3)
Session 2: Thursday, June 30 with Dr. Jesse S. Arlen(Director, Zohrab Information Center; Postdoctoral Fellow, Fordham University) Reading List: Բառեր (էջ 12–13) | Words (p. 4–5) Արծաթէ սանդուխը (էջ 14–15) | The Silver Staircase (p. 6) Զարթնում (էջ 20–21) | Awaking (p. 9) Մեծ քաղաքը (էջ 32–33) | The Big City (p. 15) Մշուշ (էջ 36–37) | Mist (p. 17) Երազ (էջ 56–57) | Dream (p. 28) Պատուհան (էջ 62–63) | Window (p. 31)
Session 3: Thursday, July 7 with Dr. Christopher Sheklian(Postdoctoral Fellow, Radboud University) Reading List: Հայ լեզուի խնդիրը (էջ 19) | The Problem of the Armenian Language (p. 8) Տեղատուութիւն եւ մակընթացութիւն (էջ 22–23) | Ebb and Flow (p. 10) Մտմտալով (էջ 38–39) | Musing (p. 18) Հին ու նոր (էջ 48–49) | Old and New (p. 24) Լոյս (էջ 58–59) | Light (p. 29) Յուշագրութիւններ (էջ 71–79) | Memoirs (p. 36–40) Մեռելածին (էջ 82–88) | Stillborn (p. 43–46)
Session 4: Thursday, July 14 with Dn. Yervant Kutchukian (PhD Candidate, Oxford University) Reading List: Անվերջ սկիզբ (էջ 18) | Endless Beginning (p. 8) Գիշեր (էջ 24–25) | Night (p. 11) Գնացք (էջ 26–27) | Journey (p. 12) Լուսանկարներ (էջ 30–31) | Photographs (p. 14) Ըսել (էջ 40–42) | To say (p. 19) Հիւանդանոց (էջ 43) | Hospital (p. 20) Մինչեւ (էջ 44) | Until (p. 21) Լուսանցք (էջ 64–65) | Margin (p. 32) Աստ անդ (էջ 68–70) | Here there (p. 34–35)
Session 5: Thursday, July 21 with Alexia Hatun(PhD Student, UCLA) Reading List: Միտքս (էջ 16–17) | My Mind (p. 7) Ես ու ես (էջ 28–29) I and I (p. 13) Մենք (էջ 34) We (p. 16) Անաւարտ (էջ 45) | Unfinished (p. 22) Եղար (էջ 46–47) | You were (p. 23) Կարապներ (էջ 50–53) | Swans (p. 25–26) Ծաղիկ (էջ 54–55) | Flower (p. 27) Երկուք (էջ 66–67) | Two (p. 33) Գեղեցկութիւն (էջ 80–81) | Beauty (p. 41–42)
Sonia Tashjian (née Ekizian) was born in Jounieh, Lebanon in 1929 to parents Hampartzoum and Haigouhi (née Karagosian) Ekizian who hailed from Chomachlou and Yozgat, Turkey, respectively. Her father had emigrated to New York prior to World War I to earn money for his family. Her mother survived the Armenian Genocide by walking in constant peril through the Syrian desert before reaching a refugee camp in Aleppo, Syria, where Hampartzoum had rescued his two surviving children, Garabed and Turvandah. He married Haigouhi and together they had four children, Margaret, Youghaper, Sonia, and Hagop.
Sonia emigrated to New York in 1937 at the age of eight with her parents and siblings. She graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, NY. She married Martin Sonny Tashjian, in 1951, shortly before Sonny was deployed to Korea. They had four sons: Douglas, Glenn, Craig, and Roger. Sonny died in 1981 from Leukemia. With her well known strong will and determination, Sonia re-entered the workforce and still managed to send her two youngest sons to Lehigh University.
Sonny and Sonia were among the founding families of St. Thomas Armenian Church in Tenafly, NJ. She later became an active member of St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, NJ, where she was a member of the women’s guild for 30 years. Sonia’s faith in God and never-give-up spirit got her through several illnesses, including her final battle with COVID-19 and its aftermath. She died peacefully on the morning of July 29th, 2020.
Sonia was an exceptional bibliophile, as evidenced by her collection of over a hundred Armenian-related books that were donated by her son Douglas to the Zohrab Information Center in 2021. Several titles were original contributions to the Center’s library, e.g., The Adventures of Wesley Jackson by William Saroyan, and Source Records of the Great War, Volume III (an anthology of official documents for the year 1915, with a chapter dedicated to the Armenian Genocide).
Many other titles were in better condition than the Center’s copies, such as George M. Mardikian’s autobiography, Song of America, which also included the original 1956 dust jacket.
Others were earlier editions than books in the Center’s collection, such as the two-volume travelogue Armenia: Travels and Studies by H. F. B. Lynch. Sonia had the first edition from 1901, while the Center had previously only held later editions.
One of the most intriguing dimensions of Sonia’s collection was the compilation of book-related ephemera: book catalogues of bygone decades, correspondence, and order receipts with Armenian book dealers spanning from 1961-1982, notably seller Mark Armen Kalustian in Arlington, Massachusetts, with whom Sonia exchanged extensive correspondence and was a loyal customer of many years.
Sonia’s collection, both the books and the ephemera, are a magnificent testament not only to the strength of life pulsating through the 20th century Armenian-American community, but also to the love and care of one extraordinary woman toward that community and its literary heritage. Her personal library of Armenian books, collected over a lifetime, has now found a permanent home in the Zohrab Information Center’s research library.
We are delighted to note that the Armenian Diaspora Survey (ADS), a public opinion study project, has been launched throughout the United States and in the province of Ontario, Canada.
If you consider yourself to be a member of the Armenian Diaspora, we invite you to share your thoughts and views about identity, culture, and community and help us gain a better understanding of the Armenian diaspora.
The survey will be available across the Unites States and Ontario, Canada until July 29, 2022. Your answers will remain anonymous and the results will be made public early next year through the ADS website.
We also kindly ask for your help in spreading the word by forwarding this information to your friends and family currently living in the United States and Ontario, Canada.
On Friday, May 20, 2022 at 6:00 PM (PST), the release of Tenny Arlen’s book of Armenian verse entitled Կիրքով ըսելու՝ ինչո՞ւ հոս եմ (To Say with Passion: Why Am I Here?) will take place in Bunche Hall 10383 of the University of California, Los Angeles. As the first full-length volume of creative literature composed in Armenian by a US-born author after over a century of Armenian-American community development, this is a landmark achievement. It is also one of the first public outcomes of the emphasis that UCLA Narekatsi Chair’s Armenian program places on the concept of Armenian as a living and creative language in diaspora. [This is a hybrid event. Those unable to attend in person may register by Zoom.]
Tenny Arlen grew up in San Luis Obispo, CA far removed from any Armenian community. She began her undergraduate studies at UCLA in 2011 with no prior knowledge of Armenian. She took courses in Western Armenian language and literature for two years with Dr. Hagop Kouloujian, and, already a talented writer, soon began to write poetry in Armenian. In 2013, she graduated from UCLA with highest honors, earning a B.A. in Comparative Literature. In 2015, she was admitted into the University of Michigan’s doctoral program in Comparative Literature with a plan to study French and Armenian symbolist poetry, but she passed away in a car accident in the summer of 2015 before beginning the program.
She wrote the first drafts of most of the poems collected in this book about 15–20 months after beginning Armenian language studies. Her posthumous book of poetry, published by the ARI Literature Foundation (Yerevan, 2021) with the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, is entitled To Say with Passion: Why Am I Here? (Կիրքով ըսելու՝ինչո՞ւ հոս եմ), a line taken from one of her poems, in which the Armenian language speaks about its own existence in the twenty-first century Diaspora. The book was edited by Dr. Kouloujian, who also wrote its afterword, in which he tells of Tenny’s creative journey in Armenian and highlights the book’s significance as the first full-length volume of creative literature written and published in Armenian by a US-born author.
Zohrab Center director, Dr. Jesse Arlen, will be one of the readers and speakers at the event, celebrating his sister’s posthumous book.
On May 26th, 2022, at 7:00pm a photography exhibit entitled “Artsakh: Angel of Peace” will debut at Guild Hall of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church, organized by the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, with a wine and cheese reception. Featuring photographs taken before and after the war and highlighting Armenian cultural heritage now under Azerbaijani control, Dr. Mchitarian’s photographs nevertheless offer an inspiring message of hope.
Dr. Marina Mchitarian is an independent researcher and the founding president of “Action for Peace,” an Armenian NGO. After completing her Ph.D. at the crossroad of mathematics and mathematical modeling, she pursued postdoctoral studies in archaeology at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and conducted research in archaeometallurgy at Ghent University (Belgium).
Fluent in four languages (Armenian, Greek, Russian, and English), she worked for fifteen years for the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. By curating a personal documentary of photographs from three Genocides (Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian), she was drawn into the work of safeguarding cultural heritage. She worked for three years for the Dutch NGO ‘’Walk of Truth’’ (The Hague, The Netherlands), whose mission is to protect cultural legacy in zones of conflict.
Her documentary photography project “Peace and Photography” featured Artsakh and Turkish-occupied Cyprus, which had exhibit-presentations in New York, London, Thessaloniki, Yerevan, and Shushi (Artsakh).
Since February 2020, she has worked as an independent researcher investigating religious freedom, religious diplomacy, ecumenism, peace and reconciliation, and the endangered Christians of the Middle East. In August 2020, she registered the NGO ‘’Action for Peace’’ (Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid and Peace-building) in Armenia. Through her NGO, she has conducted documentary photography and oral history projects in Artsakh: “Women of Artsakh: War, Identity and Peace” in September 2020 and “Nostos: The Aftermath of the War” in January 2021. She also collaborates with NYC-based Save Armenian Monuments, which operates under the auspices of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.
Some of Dr. Mchitarian’s previous work may be viewed here: