Poetry Under the Stars
Join us on the Fowler terrace for an evening of poetry that will transport guests to the primordial homeland of Armenia.
Following the Armenian genocide of 1915, survivors settled into their forced homelands in the Middle East, where different cultures met and intertwined. Many of those survivors emigrated again to the New World, America, where they arrived with two suitcases and heavy hearts filled with the intangible materiality of traditions and customs from the homeland.
Five published and award winning Armenian-American poets—Shahé Mankerian, Tina Demirdjian, Raffi Joe Wartanian, Arthur Kayzakian and Armine Iknadossian—will converse with each other through their poems. Their evocative dialogues will be punctuated by interludes by poet-musician Raffi Joe Wartanian, who will infuse the warm timbre of the oud, a Middle Eastern string instrument into the gathering.
Refreshments will be served.
Tina Demirdjian has taught poetry in schools, museums, businesses and libraries for more than 30 years in Los Angeles. She is also an artist, culture bearer, arts educators, and founder and co-director of the Armenian Dress & Textile Project. She is the recipient of numerous grants, including the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and Durfee Foundation. She is the author of IMPRINT, and a contributor to Birthmark: A Bilingual Anthology of Armenian-American Poetry and has published in numerous journals. Demirdjian is a Board Member of the Brand Associates supporting public programming at the Brand Library & Art Center, and is a participant in the art and poetry workshop, ARTful Conversations, also at Brand Gallery.
Armine Iknadossian was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Her family fled to California when she was four years old to escape the civil war. After graduating from UCLA, Iknadossian earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch University while teaching full time. She is the author of All That Wasted Fruit. Her poetry is featured in Five South, HyeBred, Armenian Poetry Project, Whale Road Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Cultural Weekly, San Diego Reader, The Nervous Breakdown and the American Journal of Poetry. Iknadossian has received fellowships and grants from the Arts Council of Long Beach, Idyllwild Arts, the Los Angeles Writing Project, and Otis College of Art and Design. She participates in Project 1521, which brings together artists, writers, and scholars to generate visual and literary works as acts of resistance. Her other passion project is collaborating with the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA) where she serves on the advisory board and volunteers her time for their mentorship program.
Arthur Kayzakian is the winner of the 2021 inaugural Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series for his collection, The Book of Redacted Paintings, which was also selected as a finalist for the 2021 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. He is the recipient of a 2023 creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is also the winner of the Prairie Schooner Strousse award for poems and winner of the Open Chapbook Competition for his chapbook My Burning City. He serves as the Poetry Chair for the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). His work has appeared in several publications, including The Adroit Journal, Portland Review, Chicago Review, Cincinnati Review, The Southern Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Witness Magazine.
Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School in Pasadena and director of mentorship at the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). He has been the co-director of the Los Angeles Writing Project, and a recipient of the Los Angeles Music Center’s BRAVO Award, which recognizes teachers for innovation in arts education. In 2021, Mankerian’s inaugural poetry collection, History of Forgetfulness, was published by Fly on the Wall Press in the UK. The collection was a semifinalist for the prestigious Khayrallah Prize, and a finalist at the Bibby First Book Competition, the Crab Orchard Poetry Open Competition, the Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Award, and the White Pine Press Poetry Prize.
Raffi Joe Wartanian is a writer, musician, and educator who teaches writing at UCLA and serves as the inaugural Poet Laureate for the City of Glendale, California. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, University of Texas Press, No Dear magazine, and elsewhere. As a musician, Raffi has released two original albums: Critical Distance (2019) and Pushkin Street (2013).
Image: The Armenians identified Hayk—the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation—with the constellation Orion. Hayk is also the name of the constellation Orion in the Armenian translation of the Bible.