REMINDER: Poetry Reading Group around Tenny Arlen’s “To Say with Passion: Why Am I Here?” begins tonight at 7:00pm

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.

ZOOM REGISTRATION

The readings to do in advance of tonight’s session are:

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)

PDFs of the book are available in Armenian and English.

Summer Poetry Reading Group: Tenny Arlen’s “To Say with Passion: Why Am I Here?”

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.

To register for all the Zoom sessions, please click here.

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.

The posthumous book release event, which took place at UCLA on May 20th, can be viewed here. An article about the event can be read here.

The book is available for purchase here. Or, be in touch directly with Jesse Arlen to arrange payment and shipping (zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org)

PDFs of the book in Armenian and English translation are available below.

ZOOM REGISTRATION

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’s personal library finds a home at the Zohrab Information Center

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 Tashjian (middle back) with her father, mother, and three siblings

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.  

Sonia Tashjian in 1950

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 Tashjian later in life

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).  

Title page of The Adventures of Wesley Jackson by William Saroyan, from the Sonia Tashjian Collection

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.  

Front cover of Song of America by George Mardikian, from the Sonia Tashjian Collection

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.  

Front cover of Armenia: Travels and Studies, vol. 1 by H. F. B. Lynch from the Sonia Tashjian Collection
Title page of Armenia: Travels and Studies, vol. 2 by H. F. B. Lynch from the Sonia Tashjian Collection

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 Tashjian correspondence with bookseller Mark Kalustian
Sonia Tashjian correspondence with bookseller Mark Kalustian
Bookseller Mark Kalustian order form and correspondence with Sonia Tashjian
Bookseller Mark Kalustian order form and correspondence with Sonia Tashjian

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. 

Book Release and Reading of Tenny Arlen’s Book of Armenian Poetry

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.

The event is co-sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,  UCLA Narekatsi Chair of Armenian StudiesUCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and CulturesThe Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, and the UCLA Armenian Students’ Association

Copies of the book will be available for sale at the release (paperback $15; hardcover $20).

For more details, please visit: https://www.international.ucla.edu/armenia/event/15664

Zoom Registration

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.

Buy a book for the Zohrab Center Library this Library Appreciation Week

This week, April 3–9, 2022, marks National Library Appreciation Week.

A private collection relying entirely on donations to develop its holdings since its inception in 1987, the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center library has over the years become one of the premier collections of Armenian material in the Western Hemisphere.

Open to the public, patrons may search the collection via its online catalog and come in person to use the collection.

This week, during library appreciation week, we invite you to 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.

If you would like to purchase a book from an Armenian bookseller, such as NAASR bookstore or Abril Bookstore, then please email us to let us know what book you purchased and we will remove it from the wish list.

You may reach us at: zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org

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

______________________________________________________________________________

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.

–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.