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.

Portraits of Survival: The Armenians of Bourj Hammoud. Tuesday, June 9

 

Photographer Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne will present her photographic portrait of the Armenian community of Bourj Hammoud, Beirut, Lebanon.
Photographer Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne will present her photographic portrait of the Armenian community of Bourj Hammoud, Beirut, Lebanon on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at the Zohrab Center in New York.

The presentation of the new book Portraits of Survival: The Armenians of Bourj Hammoud, which was postponed earlier in the year because of snow will take place this Tuesday, June 9 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.

Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne, a photographer of Armenian descent born in Beirut, spent years among the remarkable people living and working in the Armenian enclave of Bourj Hammoud in northeast Beirut. The result is a singular portrait of this vibrant Armenian community born from the ashes of the Genocide.

The album is replete with stunning, original photographs that document the spirit and history of this remarkable community.

The evening is being co-sponsored by the Zohrab Information Center and the Department of Armenian Studies of the Diocese, as well as AGBU Ararat. The event is free and open to the public. A wine and cheese reception will follow. CLICK HERE for full details.

2015-06 BourjHammoud-page-001CLICK HERE to download a color brochure.

For further information contact zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.