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IALA x h-pem | A love affair with poetry!

March 19, 2021 - May 14, 2021


By Loucig Guloyan-Srabian


IALA x h-pem | A love affair with poetry!

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!  

“I think, one is more aware of firm land
Whenever—out of nowhere—
The earth wobbles, quakes and
Shakes beneath one’s feet…” 

(Translated by Tatul Sonentz)

The words belong to the great 20th century Armenian poet Paruyr Sevak. Now, more than ever, caught between the COVID-19 pandemic and the Artsakh war crisis, they resonate with us to greater depths. Faced with existential challenges, we are determined to awaken our will to survive, with the power to impact and motivate each other.

It is no coincidence that amid the turmoil that took over the Armenian nation, Olivia Katrandjian, a Luxemburg based young novelist, made the leap to become the founder of IALA, an Armenian literary alliance committed to creating readers, writers, and a literary community through the English language.

In mid-January Olivia contacted h-pem for a collaborative poetry contest. “We have started the Young Armenian Poets Awards to encourage young people to express themselves creatively, play with words, and learn to listen for the musicality of language,” said the prize-winning author. 

What does the partnership aim to achieve?

H-Pem’s partnership with IALA comes at a crucial time in the Armenian world. There is almost an urgency to provide a bed rock of strength and resilience through literary appreciation and discourse. By focusing on creative writing as part of the universal cultural expression, we strive to help Armenians connect with each other.

IALA’s poetry contest is in line with h-pem’s objective to give voice to the young generation and open up to new possibilities when it comes to the rejuvenation of Armenian culture and the expression of the nuances of Armenian identity.

Announcing the call for entries and providing a platform for eye-grabbing winners is an opportunity for h-pem to look at the breadth and depth of poetic talent young Armenians have to offer.

Deadline for submission is April 30, 2021.Deadline for submission is April 30, 2021 (Design credit: Steve Altan)

What is expected from participants?

We put the question to IALA Advisory Board Member Alan Semerdjian who had taken part in the second installment of IALA’s “Don’t Look Away: A Literary Series for Artsakh,” which took place in Oct. 2020.

"While there is no recipe for a great poem, work that seems to resonate deeply brings together attention to craft, a flourish of imagination, and the articulation of a distinct voice that is both timely and timeless," said Semerdjian, an Armenian-American poet and creative writing teacher. 

As set forth in the official statement, IALA’s inaugural Young Armenian Poets Awards is created to "recognize exciting new Armenian writers between the ages of 14-18.” The criteria involve "invention, technical skill, and unique vision."

One of the contest judges, Raffi Joe Wartanian, cannot wait to read the submissions. 

"IALA’s 2021 Young Armenian Poets Awards excites me as an opportunity to discover the innovation, imagination, and machinations brewing in the minds of a new generation of writers," he wrote in response to our question as to why he was involved. 

Don't know where to start? 

Raffi Joe Wartanian has a tip or two for aspiring young poets. Drawing from his own experience as a poet and musician, he made a curiously insightful comment in response to our query:

“In this fraught, dynamic, and complex vortex inside a once-in-a-century pandemic, what does it mean to live authentically, to reflect imaginatively, and to write wholeheartedly? As a young poet, I relished in the opportunity to use writing as a vehicle to explore and discover. Sometimes my sense of curiosity, desire for expression, and urge to create stirred feelings that outpaced the words I had to express those feelings. I turned to language to locate a muse that always seemed just beyond grasp, an endless search that continues today. Words, I realized, were not necessary to start writing. It always starts with a feeling.” 

Why h-pem?

“Through publication in h-pem, winners will have the opportunity to have their work read by a global audience, and begin building a body of published work at a young age,” pointed out Katrandjian, President and Board of Directors of IALA, in a candid conversation with h-pem.

Both Semerdjian’s and Wartanian’s  works have been featured on h-pem. 

We're all set to host and celebrate the winning entries!

Enter IALA’s Young Armenian Poets Awards for a chance to see your work published on h-pem among some of the finest poets and writers of our times!

For more information on IALA, check out the press release here.

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