Detroit Tekeyan’s Evening of Poetry a Huge Success

By Lucy Ardash

DETROIT — An evening of poetry sponsored by the Tekeyan Cultural Association of Detroit attracted a capacity audience at the beautiful galleries of Hagopian World of Rugs on Friday, September 12.  Highlight of the event was the introduction of two books of selected poems written by Vahan Tekeyan translated by Gerald Papasian and John Papasian and edited by Edmond Azadian and Gerald Papasian.

The emcee for the evening, Dr. Raffi Belian, explained that Tekeyan symbolizes the Armenian soul, Armenia’s history, tragedy, its survival and hope through the vehicle of poetry.  He then introduced Prof. Kevork Bardakjian, the first holder of the Marie Manoogian Chair in Armenian Language and Literature, language and culture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor who gave an overview of the books.  Bardakjian praised Azadian for his efforts in an illuminating manner to bring Tekeyan out of the dark shadows and place him in a prominent place among poets.

 Samples of Tekeyan’s poetry were read alternately in English and Armenian.  A powerful English rendition of “We Shall Say to God” was presented by multi-talented artist Airea Matthews, who is a poet in her own right.  Well known artist Nora Azadian, who is one of the few people who knew Tekeyan personally, presented a vivid and emotional Armenian version of the same poem, which dealt with painful memories of the Genocide.  She stated that she chose this poem because of the upcoming centennial of the Genocide.

David Terzibashian recited “Yes Siretzi” in Armenian followed by the English rendition “I Have Loved” by Matthews.

The program included a number of other selections which revealed the poet’s tortured soul.

Alice Nigoghosian, publishing consultant for the publication stated that it was a true honor to be a part of the team to bring the poetry of a hero and literary giant to light.  She read the following quote from the Foreword written by Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Armenian Studies Program, California State University, Fresno:  “Vahan Tekeyan, Selected Poems is a work that will become an authoritative edition of the work of Vahan Tekeyan, a poet whose works speak not only to the Armenian people, but to the world.”

Edmond Azadian took the podium and expressed appreciation to the speakers and to all whose efforts brought these volumes to fruition.  Azadian wrote the introductory chapters of the books providing insight into the tormented life of the poet.  He pointed out that the Armenian version is geared for the readership in Armenia, many of whom are not as familiar with Vahan Tekeyan as with other poets, since his works were written in Western Armenian.  The bi-lingual volume is for American audiences and it is his hope that once the language barrier is eliminated, the poet will receive the recognition he deserves.

The program was brought to a close with Matthews reciting one of her thought-provoking original poems titled “Wisdom.” Tekeyan Detroit Chapter Chair Diana Alexanian presented her with an  inscribed copy of the recently published book on the Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum, A Legacy of Armenian Treasures: Testimony of a People.

A wine and cheese reception coordinated by Alexanian and long time Tekeyan supporter Pam Coultis gave guests the opportunity to mingle and have books signed.