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.
collaboration IALA x h-pem | o white Honorable Mention “o white” stages the fraught encounter between an Armenian diasporan and a US census form — a form whose standardized options erase the complexities of SWANA (Southwest Asian and North African) identity. The author writes, “As I pick up my #2 pencil, I’m left with 5 full moons to choose from. / None of them represent me.” Given the absence of nuanced modes of identification, the US Census Bureau has found that without a MENA (Middle Eastern or North African) option, census-takers who would otherwise check this category have to default to “white” — despite the chasms of difference that separates their lived experience from the experiences that accrue to whiteness. “o white” deftly captures the anxieties surrounding this lacuna, confronting the erasure of what Nelli Sargsyan calls “racially ambiguous diasporic belonging.” The poem proposes that the only choice within this classificatory system is the choice to opt out: “for the next time you see none of the zeros filled in.” Commentary provided by YAPA contest judge Mashinka Firunts Hakopian.
submission Photography | Artsakh through Souren Papazian's (iPhone) lens In the summer of 2016, Souren Papazian, a then-recent grad from Columbia University’s Computer Science program, was placed in Artsakh for three weeks as a part of his community work as a Luys Foundation scholar. “I found the people of Artsakh to be very different from folks in the rest of Armenia—different even from spyurkahais [Diasporan Armenians]. Just a different mindset and philosophy: reserved but kind, they don’t talk much, very into nature,” he explains. Souren’s submission to h-pem is a series of 17 photographs taken on his iPhone during those three weeks in Artsakh—a collection of the faces and places that spoke to him most.
submission Photography | Nune Garipian's exploration of the 'collective Armenian identity' Moving from Glendale, Calif. (one of the largest Armenian populations in the Armenian Diaspora) to New Haven, Conn. (where Armenians are few and far between) wasn't easy for Nune Garipian. "No one could even pronounce my name,” she said during a recent conversation with h-pem. Soon after relocating, though, Nune would meet and develop a connection with a small group of Armenian students at her university. And after enrolling in a photography course to learn more about her hobby, she was given an opportunity to showcase how she and her friends incorporate their Armenian identities into their daily lives. We are happy to present the series as a submission, only on h-pem...
analysis An Irish lesson on my Armenian identity Language has always played a major component in our cultural identity as Armenians. But what do other communities have to say about this topic? We reflect on the experiences of the largest American ethnic group—the Irish—and, in doing so, find the commonalities in their struggle and the universal lessons we can take away from history
feature Birthright Armenia: At the crossroads of self-discovery and nation-building What happens when you join a bus full of cosmopolitan 20-somethings on a trek through the sloping mountains of Armenia’s Aragatsotn province? If you ask the volunteers of Birthright Armenia, they would answer, “pure joy.” Last summer, I tagged along on one of their jaunts, and it became one of the most memorable experiences of my six-week stay in Armenia.
feature Hamazkayin ArtLinks: Engaging the newest generation of the diaspora Hamazkayin’s ArtLinks is an annual weekend-long forum for diasporan youth aged 21-35 to come together and participate in workshops and panel discussions helmed by some of the most creative minds and souls of our community: leading (as well as budding) artists, writers, journalists, musicians, actors, and activists. Last summer was the fourth installment of the program, which has doubled in size since its inaugural year, quickly becoming one of the most popular and stimulating events for Armenian youth in North America. Read on to know why!