In a time of turbulence and uncertainty, the Young Armenian Poets Awards (YAPA) stands as a beacon of hope and expression. Founded and directed by Alan Semerdjian, YAPA of the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA) collaborates with h-pem, which, in turn, seeks to provide an authentic audience for the annual awards. As our nation grapples with turmoil, YAPA invites young talents to explore profound existential questions. How can poetry become a bridge connecting Armenia and its vast diaspora? What dialogues are essential within the Armenian community and with the world? These questions are met with insightful responses, as young awardees delve deep into their souls, weaving symbolism, fantasy, and elegy into their work.
In 2023, the theme of "Visibility" resonates deeply as the Armenian people face challenging times, particularly in Artsakh. The lack of media coverage and international support is disheartening, leading many to feel as though they are disappearing before their own eyes. However, YAPA continues to shine a spotlight on these issues through the power of poetry. This year's winning and honorable mention poems offer poignant reflections on identity, remembrance, and resistance.
Gregory Djanikian, Armine Iknadossian, Alan Semerdjian, and Raffi Wartanian, distinguished individuals in the literary world, provide insightful commentary on the winning works. These poems encapsulate the essence of the Armenian spirit, addressing the struggles and resilience of a people whose stories deserve to be told. YAPA's mission to illuminate the dark corners of our universe through poetry remains steadfast, and it is through the voices of these young poets that we find a glimmer of light and hope during these somber times.
Read on to understand more of YAPA's 2023 edition through Alan Semerdjian's lenses.
Something extraordinary happened on the day award-winning writer, musician, and educator Alan Semerdjian released a collaboration of poems and sound with guitarist/composer Aram Bajakian—Kim Kardashian tweeted about his project The Serpent and the Crane!
While a lot has happened in the world since then, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the 44-day Artsakh war, Semerdjian went on to write an essay, a meditation about that actual day, April 24th 2020. He generously contributed his compelling story to h-pem because he believes it “should live in the world.”
Experimental in form and delivery, the essay is an attempt to tackle broader issues, such as the nature of virality, how to process and share difficult and hard to digest art, the question of Armenian identity, genocide denial—all still relevant and resonant.
Check out Semerdjian’s wonderfully intuitive, extremely timely and profound story as it unravels in real time below…
What happens when two childhood friends turned photographers meet to discuss their art?
“Ten photographs, ten questions, very epigrammatic!” is the real deal as h-pem contributor Harout Dedeyan puts it.
“Sure, we’ve frequently discussed photography, something he’s very passionate about, but I was unaware of his ultimate goal,” reflects Dedeyan before he starts his interview with Paris-based photographer Garo Minassian.
When we learned that an h-pem fan was mesmerized by Minassian’s works, we asked Dedeyan, whose photographic series of “Art on Architecture” is showcased on our platform, whether he would like to interview him.
Dedeyan graciously volunteered! His sharp eye for visual detail and effective writing style provide a unique perspective into Minassian’s work.
Check out the frank and energetic interview below...
In the summer of 2016, Souren Papazian, a then-recent grad from Columbia University’s Computer Science program, was placed in Artsakh for three weeks as a part of his community work as a Luys Foundation scholar.
“I found the people of Artsakh to be very different from folks in the rest of Armenia—different even from spyurkahais [Diasporan Armenians]. Just a different mindset and philosophy: reserved but kind, they don’t talk much, very into nature,” he explains.
Souren’s submission to h-pem is a series of 17 photographs taken on his iPhone during those three weeks in Artsakh—a collection of the faces and places that spoke to him most.
As a kid, three VHS tapes I’d play over and over—to a point, where I had memorized every single word recorded: Disney’s “Aladdin,” the first “Harry Potter” movie (insert “Sorcerer’s” vs. “Philosopher’s” debate here) and, of course, the funky, gospel-soundtracked “Hercules.”
You remember the lyrics: "Who put the 'glad' in 'gladiator?' HERC-U-LES! Whose daring deeds are great theater? HERC-U-LES!"
All 9-year-old geeks have obsessed over Greek mythology, Ancient Egyptian history, or dinosaurs and fossils at one point. My weakness: the false gods of Mount Olympia! We Armenians aren’t too different from the Greeks, from geopolitical oppression by neighboring empires, to heavy-liquor-and-folk-dance feasts, our histories often click in harmony. And that’s especially the case for our mythologies where our gods aren’t much different (or less extravagant!). Which gods are the most popular in Armenian mythology and what features make them our all-time-favorites? Read on to find out!
You do not see him on stage, yet Levon Eskenian has been taking his world-class Gurdjieff Ensemble to major festivals and music venues around the world, rendering ethnographically authentic music on traditional Eastern folk instruments and evoking the deep stirrings of ancient rituals. While invitations continue to pour in, we meet the man behind this unprecedented musical excavation, which has opened a new page in classical music.
In this exclusive interview, Serj Tankian speaks candidly with h-pem editor Rupen Janbazian about everything from the Armenian community's reactions to System of a Down's early days to his move to New Zealand, his years of activism, and his lifelong love for Armenian culture.
These are trying times: The world is being overrun by an insidiously contagious virus, schools and businesses have shuttered, and people all across the world are physically locked-in and virtually logged-on.
Since the advent of the internet, many have posited whether the invention can bring us closer or drift us further apart. For the time being, our “real” world has been suspended and moved to a “virtual” reality. It is perhaps the biggest migration in the shortest span of time in history. If this crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we all need connection, community, and comfort.
One of the heartwarming sides of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an explosion of all three C’s—whether it’s neighbors singing songs from their balconies, museums posting exhibitions online for free, or musicians livestreaming their concerts.
Art is the antidote...
What happens when you defy tradition? In the gripping short family drama, “I Promised Her Life,” an Armenian mother tackles the interplay between tradition and agency at her daughter’s funeral. The result is a devastating rendering of death and the afterlife through cultural superstition. Watch the film online, for free!
Stomp your feet to this latest Collectif Medz Bazar tune, full of raging emotional envy and a continuous pumping beat—a reflection of uncompensated affection (sans-melancholy). Directed and edited by the colorful genius behind their extravagant "Poshmanella" video, Samuel Buton, and shot at the New Morning in Paris, the “Inch G'ella” music video perfectly presents the second single from their third studio album, “O”—another collection of multilingual indie-folk-experimental hits from the eclectic group.