IALA X h-pem | Anahit's Legacy by Vladimir Mkrtchian
October 10, 2023
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.
Bellmore, NY, USA
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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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.
Isabel Nargizian is a 17-year-old proud Armenian born and raised in LA. Currently a freshman at UCLA, Isabel is studying psychobiology and pursuing her passion of composing music on the side. Classically trained in piano, she began branching out in the last two years, forming her musical identity as a singer/songwriter. While she always perceived herself a musician before a writer, her aptitude to express herself through lyrics inspires her to also write poems. To Isabel, poems are lyrics with a unique melody, one each reader silently creates in their head based on the tempo and rhythm words are interpreted. Isabel's fervor to continually support the Armenian community enables her to vocalize people’s needs and opinions in her work.
Isabel Nargizian is one of the winners of the 2023 Young Armenian Poets Awards. Continue scrolling to read her winning submission.
Sofia Ogulluk is a 14-year-old freshman at Manhasset High School on Long Island, New York. She is a passionate writer, who loves to write in all kinds of genres and styles. Some of her favorite styles of writing are poems, novels, and songs. In addition to writing, she loves to participate in Armenian Dance, Broadcast Journalism, Girl Scouts, and Theatre. In her free time, she likes to learn languages, hike, travel, and spend time with friends. A fun fact about her is that she also has attended AGBU Camp Nubar for the past four summers.
Sofia Ogulluk is one of the winners of the 2023 Young Armenian Poets Awards (YAPA). You can read her winning submission below.
Alessandra Agopian is 16-year-old a junior at Horace Mann School in New York. She is a proud Armenian with a passion for poetry and creative writing, following in the footsteps of her great grandfather, famous poet and writer Sisag Varjabedian.
Alessandra's submission is the honorable mention of the 2023 Young Armenian Poets Award. Continue to read her submission.
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