At h-pem we are thrilled to finally share the results of IALA’s (International Armenian Literary Alliance) Young Armenian Poets Awards!
Huge congratulations to the following poets (Listed in alphabetical order), whose works have been selected by IALA’s exceptional judges, as the winners and honorable mention for the 2021 poetry contest.
- Sarkis Anthony Antonyan: “I Meet the Gravedigger Burying a Soldier from Artsakh”
- Sofia Demirdjian-Lara: “I See You in the Jacarandas”
- Lucine Ekizian: “Go Light on the Sweetness”
- Natalie Abadjian: “o White” (Honorable mention)
We are proud to host the special publication of your work on our website!
Thanks to IALA’s vision, you can now add a new feather to your creative accomplishments and develop your potential for lasting fulfillment. Through your originality and creativity, you have each made a significant contribution to raising awareness about the undercurrents and connections that join us as Armenians.
“If poetry can reveal the heart of a people, then poetry written by some of the youngest amongst us can present that heart in the most honest and unadulterated way,” writes IALA Advisory Board Member Alan Semerdjian.
Enjoy Semerdjian’s unique window into the world seen through the eyes of IALA’s young contestants, then check out their winning entries by following the links at the bottom.
We hope our IALA x h-pem collaboration inspires readers to appreciate and care for fledgling poets — they invite us all to reconnect with the parameters of identity and belonging that sustain and surround us, each in their own personal and thoughtful approach.
“I Meet the Gravedigger Burying a Soldier from Artsakh" is a moving lament for a soldier who has died in the Artsakh conflict. Its power comes from the poet’s delicate handling of language, phrasing, an eschewal of hyperbole. One of the most striking images describes the speaker’s yearning to give the ability of speech back to the stricken warrior: "How is this the resolution of/an incomplete history? I have removed my voice box/and placed it/on your heart." It depicts a poignant communitarian gesture, a giving to the lifeless body a voice, a continued narrative. Also impressive are the opening lines of the poem which describe the speaker’s willingness to shield the fallen soldier by metaphorically staving off what will disturb him: “Please, let me swallow the rain/to save this soil. He needs a good home, a dry cavern/to sleep.” And finally, the tone of the poem, the understatement, the delicacy of utterance, indicts the ravages of war itself without diatribe or homily.
Commentary provided by YAPA contest judge Gregory Djanikian
H-Pem is thrilled for the opportunity to partner with the newly founded International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA) and host their inaugural Young Armenian Poets Awards.
Poetry has the power to unlock young people’s imaginations, inspire change, and challenge us with diverse reflections, especially in these trying times.
We’re all for creative ingenuity and are set to celebrate the winning entries. If you’re an aspiring poet between the ages of 14-18, join IALA’s contest. It's your chance to get your voice heard and initiate a meaningful conversation with the beauty of words.
Tap into your inner poet with fresh and exclusive insights from IALA Board leaders in the article below!
People usually view, watch, touch, and experience art for entertainment, a tingling of the senses, emotional connectivity, or to develop a deeper understanding of art. Not with Lara, an artist, whose shiny, luminous art is appreciated for its sunny palette.
Generations of Armenians have been haunted by the crane, one of the most potent and emotive symbols ingrained in the Armenian psyche. Ever since Komitas Vardapet addressed the bird in his soulful song of a wanderer, “Oh crane, don’t you have news from our homeland?” it has been associated with ill omen, leaving the question unanswered. In the final poem of the “Artsakh Trilogy” Harasharzh gives an ironic twist to the folk-based story of the past. Steeped in renaissance style and contemporary references, the poet’s words act like a mantra in these trying days.
"New Navasardian, a Sullen Ode" is Harasharzh's second poem published by h-pem.
The poet addresses Daniel Varoujan, a martyr of the Armenian Genocide, looking for wisdom in his eponymous pagan song, while the Artskah war is entering its most virulent phase. Resilience in dealing with loss remains an amorphous mix of grim sacrifice and hope, as the poet evokes the ancient gods of Armenian mythology, and challenges Varoujan in his optimism about the nation's future.
Can we expect war to give rise to creative beauty? What is the role of poets in contemporary warfare where sensational media leaves little to the imagination? Do poets still have to bear testimony to war? Stir feelings? Raise arguments? Can war poetry become a path to redefine identity? In "Vaspurakan's Echo," the first poem of the "Artsakh Trilogy," Harasharzh, a young American-Armenian poet, draws answers from history, literature, and the spaces between.
“To have great art, we must commission it! In order to commission it, we must have great commissioners!” If there is one person in the Armenian world who could be credited with turning Frank O'Hara’s famous words into action, it’s Minas Lourian, who serves as director of the Center for Studies and Documentation of Armenian Culture in Venice, Italy.
Lourian was the catalyst behind Riccardo Muti’s recent “Roads of Friendship” concert in Armenia for the premiere of “Purgatory,” a commissioned piece by Tigran Mansurian. The maestro and his wife Cristina received the presidential Medal of Friendship, while Lourian was awarded with the Medal of Gratitude for their “significant role in the strengthening and promoting of cultural relationships between Armenia and Italy.”
H-pem sat down for an exclusive Skype interview to get valuable insights from the unconventional cross-cultural executive who has a deep knowledge of the Armenian-Italian community and a whole raft of stunning achievements under his belt.
Priceless manuscripts have survived a long and precarious journey to bear witness to Armenia’s rich cultural legacy. Now digitalization and new exhibition halls at the Matenadaran ensure that the “birth certificates” of our nation defy time and space.
When Maestro Krikor Alozian restarted rehearsals after a long gap amidst pandemic, little did he know that a simple video recording of a well-toiled and tinkered little song would go a long way towards reviving ancient Armenian rituals. How did he do this? We had a brief phone conversation with the conductor to find out how he came up with an impressive little gem.
It’s World Wildlife Day! Our focus at h-pem today is on "Pegasus," the poem based on the divine horse in Greek mythology, that fueled the imagination of Daniel Varoujan, one of the early 20th century’s most celebrated Western Armenian poets.
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...
The Nairyan Vocal Ensemble actively participated in releasing patriotic songs and keeping up the morale of the nation during the 44 day Artsakh war in autumn. As we honor the troops of Armed Forces in Armenia and Artsakh on Army Day, we dedicate the ensemble’s a cappella rendition of “Martiki yerg” (“Մարտիկի երգ” | “Soldier’s Song”) to those who fought bravely to defend our motherland.