Thursday, April 30, 2009

Third Anniversary Celebration

Outside the Cornelia Street Cafe (Photo by Lola Koundakjian)

Nancy Agabian, the host of GARTAL (Photo by Lola Koundakjian)

Nishan Akgulian (photo by Doug Davidian)

Kevork Kalayjian (photo by Doug Davidian)

Nora Armani (photo by Doug Davidian)

Lola Koundakjian (photo by Doug Davidian)

Notes read at the third anniversary celebration of the Armenian Poetry Project
March 25, 2009, Cornelia Street Café, New York City.

Did you read the one about the Astoria Fishermen Poets ? How about teenagers competing for $30,000 in prizes at a poetry slam, or how the Internet 'is causing poetry boom' ? These NY Times and Daily Telegraph articles published in the past two months are a few examples of an exciting trend.

I began the Armenian Poetry Project in an effort to investigate a new technology called RSS feeds. This stands for Really Simple Syndication, a tool used to publish frequently updated works. If you've received daily updates from the New York Times on your Blackberry, you're familiar with this resource.

I began adding a few poems to the website, then audio feeds and statistics counters and immediately noticed that the web-based reading services were finding the APP site, indexing it and allowing visitors to find the entries via google.

As we approach the 3rd anniversary of the Project -- the 1st post appeared late April 2006 -- the site has attracted about 80,000 visitors from over 100 countries. In the past few months, the word has spread and the site receives an average of 200 visitors per day.

APP currently holds close to 1000 entries, mostly poems, some quotes, biographies, a few GARTAL and book announcements, and last but not least audio clips on iTunes. This and the RSS feeds are what differentiate the Armenian Poetry Project from other Armenian poetry sites, and there are some good ones out there.

Tonight I'd like to read a selection of Armenian poems by authors whom you have most likely never heard of. Part "Dead Armenian Poetry Society", part APP, these authors represent the different corners of the Armenian Diaspora. They write about their earthly pleasures, their losses and the expatriate life, family, visits to the homeland, and the Genocide.

I want to thank Nancy Agabian for inviting me once again to Cornelia Street Café to celebrate this anniversary with you. You've been a great audience. If you'd like to learn more about the Armenian Poetry Project, contact me at ArmenianPoetryProject[at] If you'd like to help, here are a few suggestions:

We need Armenian books to be written, published and read.
Authors, poets and readers need updated anthologies.
Like musicians and actors, we need a stage.
We need this great program, GARTAL; we need Armenian bookstores, Lory Bedikian's chronicle entitled "Poetry Matters", the Montreal based Horizon's monthly literary supplement, the Armenian Weekly's poetry pages.
We need Mkhitarist monks, Armenologists and their research.
We need professors to teach Armenian literature at high school and university level.
We need literary circles, Dead Armenian Poetry societies and arts funding.

We need, I need, a great audience such as the one this evening.

Thank you!

Lola Koundakjian
Curator and Producer

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