Sunday, May 30, 2010

Live from the Bowery Poetry Club: Shahé Mankerian

Gartal and the Armenian Poetry Project are proud to release this audio clip recorded live at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City on April 2, 2010. Click to hear Shahé Mankerian’s reading of his poem My name.

To the American ear
Shahé is a mistake.
It’s a crazy consonant
malfunction, alphabetic
disorder. The boys at Starbucks
want to relabel me: “Shane,
your coffee’s ready!”
“Sean, non-fat latte, extra foam.”
It’s no use correcting them,
because in their world I am
wrong and they’re right.
In their world Armenian is
a typo, it should be American.
Computers often recognize me
as a verb: Shake, shave, share-
Depends who wants to play
Scrabble with me that day.
My name is Shahé;
Shale sounds nice,
but it’s not my name.
In Turkish, “Shash” means
cross-eyed peasant.
It’s not my name.
Shat is the past
tense of shit.
It’s not my name.
Shawe almost sounds
like a playwright.
Shaqe sounds like a basketball player.
not my name.
My name is Shahé.
It has a powerful connotation of the Shah,
and a simple “héh” like a whisper,
like a sigh on a cold winter day,
like an end of a poem.

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