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IALA X h-pem | Anahit's Legacy by Vladimir Mkrtchian

October 10, 2023


By Vladimir Mkrtchian


IALA X h-pem | Anahit's Legacy by Vladimir Mkrtchian

Vladimir Mkrtchian is a sixteen-year-old student attending Wellington C. Mepham High School on Long Island. Mkrtchian writes in English, Armenian, and French and is pursuing a Seal of Biliteracy in the French language. He won several regional and district-wide writing contests, earning an honorable mention at the Walt Whitman Birthplace 2023 Student Poetry Contest, and publication of his works in his school’s literary magazine, Fragments. Currently, he is an assistant teacher at the Holy Martyrs Armenian Language School in Queens, New York—teaching the Armenian language to Nursery students while also writing monthly issues on behalf of the school in the church’s newsletter, Narrec. He continues to write today, sharing his Armenian-influenced works with his teachers, friends, and the district in hopes of spreading awareness and bridging the gap between American and Armenian communities.

Vladimir Mkrtchian's poem "Anahit's Legacy' is one of the winners of the 2023 Young Armenian Poets Awards. Read Vladimir's haunting poem below.

Vladimir Mkrtchian
Age 16
Bellmore, NY, USA

Anahit’s Legacy

After Peter Balakian’s “Head of Anahit/British Museum”

For Anush Apetyan




You said anyone could walk in


even with a sword buried underneath

a charade of a chest, past rows

of people, ruins and idols


immortalized in perfect interim clay

skeletons, plated in lush bronze

and dusted in an airy serpentine


Years could unfold into centuries

and wrap history’s carriage as

precise drapery, only to


lose it all in a second


to invade to break


to ravish to rape




My head is lost at the crossroads of tradition and change


late July, between the dewy crossfire of

brimmed pots and pans spilling Vardavar water

between the local symphony of the capers

of one soft street cat and another


testy cur, I sat in the apricot tree’s shade

branded with the Kerkhach, my wrist

adorned with Nazar beads tied with a silver cross




Who would have seen it coming


the Autumn I left


she sickened into critical condition, every day a reminder: 


a beckoning bulletin of another


Armenian, Yazidi, Atheist,

man or woman, dead by proxy;


beheaded, raped, mutilated,


a thousand stones would have been more humane




Nestled soundly in the American dream

it all seems so far, I pretend to forget it


through the grandeur played off every church Sunday


every party, every barbecue, every shower


is as good as it once was there




But my mind circles back to the lucky

soldier on the 100-dram bus, the way


he sat, legs glued to each other, clad in

dusty military wear as green as the most

tattered mountain greens, the way his

hands gripped space, his arms—nonexistent




Today strife like this is only natural; from the myriad of

relics barely stuffed behind the British Museum’s walls


to the postmodern fetishes of ancient culture,


Anahit—who lives in the guise of Aphrodite


next to the corpses of caryatids: a token of a once-great empire


stands there—fragmented—her nose as august as ever

and her gilded air glittered with life and granite


trapped in a glass cage, miles from home


sold for her Hellenic grace, her magnetism, her artistry


but not for the gentle cracks that swallow her face

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Related Collaborations

IALA X h-pem | 2023 Young Armenian Poets Awards: On Visibility
Collaboration IALA X h-pem | 2023 Young Armenian Poets Awards: On Visibility

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.

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