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
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)
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:
Mark your calendars for the following upcoming Zohrab Center events:
Mon, April 18, 7:00pmin-person — Lecture: “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, 7:00pmZOOM — Krapar & 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, 7:00pmin-person — Photographic 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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
Author of Open 24 Hours – Winner of 2013 Blue Lynx Prize
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.
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