A Literary Evening: Armenian Writers in New York

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

“Artsakh: Angel of Peace” – A Photography Exhibit by Dr. Marina Mchitarian on May 26th at 7:00pm (ET)

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:

Memory in Action. From Mush to Artsakh, from the Desert Generations to the Independence Generations

Can Memory Trigger a Genocide Prevention? (Documentary photography project)

Peace and Photography (Documentary photography project)

Hellenes of Armenia (Documentary photography project)

Զարմինէ Պօղոսեանի «Ազէզէն Ամերիկա» գիրքը (թուայնացուած օրինակ) / Zarmine Boghosian’s Book “From Azaz to America” (PDF)

Ապրիլ 27-ին Առաջնորդութիւն Հայոց Ամերիկայի Արեւելեան Թեմը տեղի ունեցաւ Զարմինէ Պօղոսեանի անցեալ տարուայ լոյս ընծայած Ազէզէն Ամերիկա (Երեւան՝ «ՎՄՎ-ՊՐԻՆՏ», 2021) գիրքի շնորհանդէսը։ Ծրագրին մասին կարդալու համար՝ սեղմել այստեղ։ Նկարներ տեսնելու համար՝ սեղմել այստեղ։

Աւելի քան չորս հարիւրէն էջնոց գիրքը մէկ տեղ կը հաւաքէ մանկավարժ-տնօրէնուհիին/հեղինակին 1960-ականներէն մինչեւ մեր օրերը գրած յօդուածները, փորձագրութիւնները, յուշագրութիւնները, եւ բանաստեղծութիւնները։

Գիրքը աւելցաւ Զօհրապ կեդրոնի գրադարանին, եւ ըստ հեղինակի ազնիւ փափաքին, գիրքի թուայնացուած օրինակը կարելի է վարբեռնել այստեղ։

On April 27th, the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America hosted the book release of Zarmine Boghosian’s From Azaz to America (Yerevan: “VMV-PRINT”, 2021). To read about the program, click here. For photos, click here.

The over four-hundred page book gathers into one place the educator-principal-author’s articles, essays, memoirs, recollections, and poetry written from the 1960s until recent years.

The book was added to the Zohrab Center’s Research Library, and in accordance with the kind wishes of the author, a PDF of the book is available to download here.

Upcoming Events at ZIC: Lecture, Krapar & Kini, Photo Exhibition

Mark your calendars for the following upcoming Zohrab Center events:

Mon, April 18, 7:00pm in-personLecture: “Naming the Armenian Genocide: Language, Politics, and Medz Yeghern” by Dr. Vartan Matiossian at the Guild Hall of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America: 630 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10016. Reception and book signing to follow.

Mon, April 25, 7:00pm ZOOMKrapar & Kini (Classical Armenian & Wine) with Prof. Abraham Terian on Prayer 53 from the prayer book of St. Gregory of Narek, which Prof. Terian has recently translated. Register for the session here.

Thurs, May 26, 7:00pm in-personPhotographic Exhibition: “Artsakh: Angel of Peace” by Dr. Marina Mchitarian, featuring material shot before and after the 2020 war and offering a life-affirming message of hope. Includes a brief documentary screening and conversation with Dr. Mchitarian. Wine and cheese reception will accompany the viewing of the photographs. At the Guild Hall of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America: 630 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10016.

Naming the Armenian Genocide: Language, Politics, and Medz Yeghern; a presentation by Dr. Vartan Matiossian

Related to a recent book he has published, Dr. Vartan Matiossian, historian, literary scholar, and Executive Director of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Church, will give a presentation entitled, “Naming the Armenian Genocide: Language, Politics, and Medz Yeghern” at the Guild Hall of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America: 630 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10016.

Reception and book signing to follow the presentation.

The presentation will make reference to the etymology and history of the word yeghern, its use parallel to “genocide” after 1945, and its political and historical implications, drawing from a vast array of instances of its use and misuse by politicians, journalists and others, particularly Pope John Paul II, the 2008 apology campaign by a group of Turkish intellectuals, and the last four presidents of the United States.

Dr. Vartan Matiossian, a historian and literary scholar, has been Executive Director of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Church (New York) since 2019. He obtained his Ph.D. in History from the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia in 2006. He lives in New Jersey. He has published extensively in Armenian, Spanish, and English, including the translation of almost two dozen books and the editing of twenty-five volumes, as well as five books of his authorship in Armenian, one in Spanish, and two in English: Armenian Language Matters (New York, 2019) and The Politics of Naming the Armenian Genocide: Language, History, and “Medz Yeghern” (London, 2021). His next book in English, An Armenian Woman of the World: Armen Ohanian, the “Dancer of Shamakha,” co-authored with Artsvi Bakhchinyan, is coming out in a few weeks from the Press at California State University, Fresno.

RESCHEDULED EVENT: Shahé Mankerian Poetry Book Release & Signing March 10th (IN-PERSON)

On Thursday, March 10th at 7:00pm ET, the Zohrab Information Center will host the East Coast book release and signing of Los Angeles poet Shahé Mankerian’s highly acclaimed debut collection History of Forgetfulness (Fly on the Wall Press, 2021).

The event will take place in Guild Hall of the Diocesan Center in NYC (630 2nd Ave). Joining Shahé for this in-person event (rescheduled from December 2021) to offer readings will be NY area writers and scholars: Nancy AgabianChristopher AtamianAlina GregorianAlan SemerdjianAlina Gharabegian, & Lola Koundakjian.

Book signing and reception to follow!

Shahé Mankerian releases his critically-acclaimed debut collection, taking readers back to 1975 Beirut, where an un-civil war is brewing. Mankerian asks, “Who said war didn’t love / the children?” setting the tone for a darkly humorous collection in which memories of love, religion and childhood are entangled amongst street snipers and the confusion of misguided bombings.

Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School and the director of mentorship at the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). This debut collection has been a finalist at the Bibby First Book Competition, the Crab Orchard Poetry Open Competition, the Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Award, and the White Pine Press Poetry Prize.

Distinguished California poet Shahé Mankerian reminds us in this powerful debut poetry collection that we forget painful memories deliberatively, yet his gut-punching poems relive for himself as well as for us the horrific shredding of humanity that war, especially civil war, inflicts. A survivor of the Lebanese civil war in the late 20th century, Mankerian unspools in devastating simplicity and directness, in seemingly inconsequential scenes, the horrors and suffering of children, parents, neighbors, schoolmates, friends, lovers navigating daily bombardments, scavenging for food, dodging snipers’ bullets, and trying to find a modicum of normalcy among the ruins. One poem, “Continuum,” sums beautifully the people’s daily attempts to keep their fractured lives afloat: patching broken windows, cooking meals, clearing debris—in essence struggling to forget the chaos that surrounds them. In the process, Mankerian’s clear-eyed, honest poetry paints unforgettable pictures of human beings we relate to, ordinary heroes and victims that sadden us but uplift us with their resiliency and stoic determination to prevail.

–Thelma T. Reyna

Poet Laureate Emerita; Author of Dearest Papa: A Memoir in Poems

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In the ironically titled The History of Forgetfulness – ironic because the poems in this book are riveting and indelible – Shahé Mankerian never leaves a reader un-engaged. In these accessible and irresistible poems, a character wonders if he should tell his mother the lentil soup needs salt, ponders the laws of war, and prescribes a generic brand Jesus. The great Russian poet Osip Mandelstam wanted poetry to achieve “a heightened perception of what already existed.”  That is precisely what Mankerian does in this eminently readable and memorable collection.  Buy three copies:  read one, give one to a friend, keep the third so you’ll have it handy when you wear the first one out. 

–Ron Koertge, widely published for more than fifty years, has poems in two volumes of Best American Poetry and a recent Pushcart Prize.  He is the author of “Negative Space,” short-listed for a 2018 Oscar in Animated Short Films.

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As we proceed through these sharply etched memories of a childhood in wartime Lebanon, it seems increasing remarkable that the poet emerged alive, and even more remarkable that he was able to convey the violence and mayhem—both in and outside the home—in such spare but vivid, harrowing poems. They are not marred by the dreaded bugaboos, sentimentality, melodrama, or self-pity. Shahé Mankerian recounts, as we sometimes say, the sort of thing you wouldn’t know unless you’d been there, lived it. Imagine a spot on the globe where if children playing hide-and-seek come upon the rotting body of a woman, it’ll be up to them to bury her.

There are many such spots on the globe. However, few survivors emerge with the will, wherewithal, talent, and opportunity to tell their stories with such power. Their story and that of thousands like them. No, millions.

–Suzanne Lummis

Author of Open 24 Hours – Winner of 2013 Blue Lynx Prize

Sample poems:

La Quarantaine

During the Karantina Massacre, 
Father wired the stereo directly 
to the generator in the basement

so that he could block the bloodshed 
with the Requiem. From our bedroom 
window, the rise of the satanic smoke

swallowed the Palestinian shanty town.
Amadeus seemed demure next to 
the screaming children. Father

pulled the abat-jours and demanded 
we give Mozart our attention.
The timpani competed with the rat-

a-tat-tat of Kalashnikovs.
I felt lightheaded from the mazout
fumes of the generator. “Son, listen!”

Kyrie, eleison. Christe, eleison.
I preferred the sirens over the harrowing 
howl of the angels concocted by Wolfgang.

Like Eliot’s Prufrock

Like a slab of meat etherized upon a table, 
she felt obligated to clean her fiancé. A nurse
pulled the curtain and left her alone with a limp

rag in a bedpan full of warm, lathery water.
From the unfurnished apartment to the ambulance, 
she used her unfitted wedding gown to wrap

his punctured belly with shrapnel shells.
The doctors cut the dress like a gauze. She dabbed
his foaming mouth with the veil. They didn’t have

a balcony anymore. Torn pages from his dissertation 
covered a pool of blood. Soap residue stained
his torso, the floor tiles, his diaphragm.

Please note, as per the New York City Covid-19 Executive Order 225proof of vaccination, as well as an I.D., will be required upon entryProof of vaccination may include a CDC Vaccination Card, an NYC Vaccination Record, NYC Covid Safe App, Excelsior Pass, or an official immunization record from outside NYC or the U.S., showing proof of receipt of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for emergency use or licensed for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization.  Negative COVID 19 Tests are not accepted.

“An Overview of the Armenian Historical Tradition, Part II: Eleventh to Eighteenth Centuries” by Dr. Jesse S. Arlen

Zohrab Center postdoctoral fellow and director, Dr. Jesse S. Arlen, to begin Spring 2022 lecture series at St. Nersess Seminary on Thursday evenings at 7:00pm by Zoom, Jan 20 – Feb 24.

An Overview of the Armenian Historical Tradition: Part II: Eleventh to Eighteenth Centuries 

This two-part lecture series introduces the audience to the Armenian historical tradition, a rich and fascinating corpus of literature with texts produced continuously from the first century after the invention of the alphabet up until the modern period.

During Part I of this lecture series (offered in Fall 2021), we covered the Armenian histories written from the fifth to tenth centuries.

In Part II, we will look at histories beginning in the eleventh century, which respond to the Seljuk invasions and the many changes brought to Armenian life, and proceed up until the early modern period, when travel accounts covered the various diasporic and merchant colonies that were now spread across the globe.  

To register, click here. All are welcome.