Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Celebration of the Writings of Russian & Eastern European Poets

A Celebration of the Writings of Russian & Eastern European Poets 

A National Translation Month Program 

at the 

Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Co-Hosts: Claudia Serea & Gordon Gilbert 

Opening Music by Edith Lettner, accompanied by Paul Freefall 

Introductions: Gordon Gilbert & Claudia Serea 


Claudia Serea - "Give me a body, you mountains," "Quiet," & "The soul of the village" by Lucian Blaga (Romanian, 1895-1961)

Basil Lvoff – "On the earth cruelly minuscule" by Robert Rozhdestvensky (Russian, 1932-94)
& “Sounds’ Summons” by Konstantin Balmont (Russian, 1867-1942)

Anoek Van Praag – “A New Friend” by Dejann Stojanovic (Serbian, 1959- )
& “A Mistake” by Vasko Popa (Serbian, 1922-1991)

Paul Sohar – “The Conscience of Trees” by Zoltán Böszörményi (Hungarian, 1951- )

Olga Rukovets – “untitled #6 ” & “untitled #97” by Lydia Chukovskaya (Russian, 1907-96)

Valery Oisteanu – “Passionnement” by Gherasim Luca (French/Romanian, 1913-94)

J. Lois Diamond – “A Cloud in Trousers – Part 1” by Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (Russian, 1893-1930)

Lola Koundakjian – “New York, NY” by Zareh Khrakhouni (Turkish of Armenian descent – 1926-2015)


***** music by Edith Lettner with accompaniment by Paul Freefall ******

Natalie Rogers – “Wait for Me” by Konstantin Simonov (Russian, 1915-79)
Ptr Kozlovsky – “Building the Barricade” & “Thoughts of a Fourteen Year-old Nurse" by Anna Swir (Polish, 1909-84)

Larissa Shmailo - " … it's like a rain wall ... " by Alexander Skidan (Russian, 1965- )
& "June 25, 1939" by Arseny Tarkovsky (Russian, 1907-89)

Vladimir Druk – “Alef-Bet” translated by Lev Friedman, read in Russian by author, Vladimir Druk (Russian, 1957- )

Anna Halberstadt – “Lithuanian Sky” by Antanas Jonynas (Lithuanian, 1953- )
& “Fourth” by Kestutis Navakas (Lithuanian, 1964- )

Gordon Gilbert – “ ? ” & “ ? ” by Sergei Esenin (Russian, 1895-1925)


Final Words: Gordon Gilbert


Our special thanks to Robin Hirsch, proprietor & Josh Rebell, curator
for having provided us with the opportunity to produce this program.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Michael Keshigian: Blue Ghost

Her eyes
and the lake
are his memories,
cobalt images of clarity
and purity, running deep.
It was in this cove
where the black spotted loon
dove head first
into the heart of blue,
attracting the tender pulse
of her affection
inciting her
to follow the creature
into the watery sweep
tangled with milfoil
that snarled her hair
while the checkered fowl
dutifully hunted
for its young.
Her blue eyes wide,
blended eventually
with the ripple of current
that swept beneath the surface.
He visited that cove often thereafter,
especially those days
where the sun’s gleam
highlighted the blue ghost
within the restless ripples
that will forever
wrap him in riddles.

Previously published in Red River Review

Michael Keshigian, from New Hampshire, had his twelfth poetry collection, Into The Light, released in April, 2017 by Flutter Press. He has been published in numerous national and international journals including Oyez Review, Red River Review, Sierra Nevada College Review, Oklahoma Review, Chiron Review and has appeared as feature writer in over a twenty publications with 6 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations. (

The Armenian Poetry Project supports the BANNED BOOKS WEEK project

The Banned Books Week Coalition is an international alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship.

Visit your local bookstore and buy a book. Support your local library. Read a poem to a child. Organize a reading. Begin a lending book library. 
Censorship Silences Voices 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Krikor Der Hohannesian: Small Deaths

a phone call in the middle of the night,
the son of a best friend – words
choked by the heave of sobs
erupting from his belly – his father,
a sudden death, and the air whooshes
from my lungs, but no words come…

or others, friends you once
danced and sang with,
still on this earth but many
now lame or raspy-voiced

and you, sister, children
a continent away, living
with angst and two Abyssinians
your comfort at night

or you, brother, your gait
shuffled by the disease
that one day not so distant
has claim on you

or you, dearest, your mother’s
ship long since having left port
on a tide of dementia and you
on the shore still waving
safe journey, safe journey…

and so I watch the insults
pile up and give them names,
like “Arthur” for arthritis, “Nolan”
for no language as I search
for a lost word, “Stenny” for stenosis
when my legs don’t work quite right.

All this we might call aging,
these losses one by one,
or we might call them small deaths,
a collective prelude, as if one’s own demise
will be the symphony of all symphonies.

Previously published in Red River Review

Friday, September 21, 2018

Hagop Merjian: Casting Nets: Gulf of Akaba: Sinai

I saw that he belonged to this sea,
To water, and salt and the flesh of this
First water, and he preyed on it not
With steel and lever, engines and matrix.
Only net.

Witnessed his arachnid fingers, fretting, ·
Sunbrowned tentacles, spinning, spooling
The gossamer web in the lustrous jade of dawn
Light, casting, over-casting, hurling -
Sending with long-limbed lean arcs, the
Small baitfish, squiggling, spine-hooked, out
Over, above, blinding the claw of the sun,
Plop, into the shoal of a million silver sard.
On the edges, lurking, hungered the Akaba 'cuda.
Eel-like arrowed magic, lank teethy snout
Longer than his wrestler's shank body,
Taunter, sporting devourer, feasting on the
Leaping frenzy of the netted school: lambent razor.

It was punishment seeing this gleaming muscle
Lose its invisibility and come to us: taken body.
What was a scream on a line held with blood-cut hands
Took on the shame of shore life: the angry, futile throbbing.

Fearful lest that saber-mouthed rapier-sting
Slash at the gloat of the sun and his hands,
The old Arab split the darted snout, pressed
One jaw, then the other, slow, firm and deathly bray,
Until top, then bottom, cracked and broke on
The trunk of the palm log washed up at his feet.

That done, he began to sing. Or pray.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018

ASA Announces 8th “Arthur Halvajian Memorial” Armenian Poetry Competition

Providence RI —The Armenian Students Association, Inc. is delighted to announce the start of its 8th annual poetry competition. As in the past years, the ASA, Inc. is partnering with the Armenian Poetry Project for the writing competition named in memory of Arthur Halvajian, a trustee who led its Board in sponsoring the first competition.

"In the past, we have enjoyed reading about the winning entries and look forward to reaching out to even more communities in North America" said Alice Movsesian, a member of the ASA, Inc. Board of Trustees as well as its liaison to the competition’s organizing committee.

ASA National Board Vice President M. Manoog Kaprielian, a staunch supporter of poetry, believes in its power to heal communities and individuals who have settled throughout the United States and Canada.

The Armenian Poetry Project, led by poet Lola Koundakjian, is a research and documentation site for 19th to 21st century Armenian poems and related topics. Currently containing over 3000 poems, it celebrated its 12th anniversary in April.

APP has a worldwide following and releases poems through RSS feeds, Twitter and podcasting.


All individuals of Armenian descent, residing in the United States and Canada are invited to submit their work, in English or Armenian for the competition.

  • Poems must be original, unpublished and not accepted for publication. 
  • They should be written in English or Armenian and not exceed 50 lines.
  • Only one original unpublished poem per individual may be submitted.

The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2018; winners will be announced by the jury in December 2018.

Entries should be e-mailed by November 1, 2018 to with the subject heading "Halvajian ASA/APP Poetry competition".

The competition groups submissions into three categories; students (ages 12-17), college age (ages 18-22), and adult (ages 23 and older).

A top prize will be awarded for each of the categories in the amounts of US $75 (students), $125 (college age), and $300 (adult).

Each poem submitted by students must be accompanied by the author's full name, age, home address/telephone number, school name and sponsoring teacher's telephone number.

College and adults only add age and contact information.

To learn more about the Armenian Poetry Project visiting

The Armenian Students' Association of America, Inc. encourages educational pursuits by Armenians in America and the raising of their intellectual standards, providing financial assistance in the form of scholarships to deserving Armenian students, developing fellowship among them, cultivating in them the spirit of service in the public interest, and acquainting them and the entire American community with Armenian culture.