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IALA x h-pem | Go light on the sweetness

March 19, 2021 - September 23, 2021

Creative writing

By Lucine Ekizian


IALA x h-pem | Go light on the sweetness

“Go Light on the Sweetness” shines in its subtlety. Rendered with vivid imagery, the flower — “Encompassing millions of / Beginnings, endings, / And middles” — becomes a vibrant symbol of memory, of the struggle between history and amnesia, of the compelling juxtaposition between the absence of remembering and the presence of not forgetting. Characteristic of the Armenian experience, that juxtaposition is universally human. By asking, “Does the honey cause a paucity of flavor?” the writer summons a flower’s sweet nectar to toggle between presence and absence; in this case, the presence of honey subtracts flavor. What does it mean, then, when expectations collapse, when the natural order evaporates like the steam rising from hot water? To that tension, the writer responds, “My moral compass spins as / I pour in the sweetness,” evoking a disorientation all too familiar throughout the past year-and-a-half of death, destruction, and deception. All that remains is the in-between. We’re caught in a nebulous space, an origin point between polarities that force us to find footing on the continuum of an uncertain world. And maybe that’s where we must take root — acculturating “in both worlds.” It is this noteworthy sense of subtlety and soul that makes “Go Light on the Sweetness” a disquieting and imaginative interrogation of the in-between.

Commentary provided by YAPA contest judge Raffi Wartanian

Replacing the chamomile in my tea 
With the compact flowers, with purple petals, 
Hugging yellow centers, 
Encompassing millions of 
Beginnings, endings, 
And middles. 
I add the floral palette not to remember, 
But to forget-me-not. 

Does the honey cause a paucity of flavor? 
My moral compass spins as 
I pour in the sweetness. 

I will not drink tea without honey,
I will not consume honey without tea. 

As my soul lives there, and my body here, 
I live in both worlds, 
I live to acculturate.

Lucine Ekizian Blair High School Pasadena, CA 15 years old lucineekizian@gmail.comLucine Ekizian
Blair High School
Pasadena, CA
15 years old



Shahe Mankerian

Shahe Mankerian

26 Sep, 2021 05:19:07 Edited

You're amazing. Keep challenging us, and I will "Go light on the sweetness."

Shahe Mankerian

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Related Creative writing

IALA x h-pem | Introducing...the 2021 Young Armenian Poets Awards
Collaboration IALA x h-pem | Introducing...the 2021 Young Armenian Poets Awards

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.

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