June 29, 2010

Soon News

I wanted to share some news . . .

My memoir Me as her again has been shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing from Stanford University. This is a nice honor, considering the other 14 shortlisted books. I was happy to discover some new titles that look really innovative. So please be sure to check out these books, support small press writers, and send word of mouth to your friends about Me as her again, too.

The happening art blog Hyperallergic published my personal essay about resurrecting my L.A.-based folk/punk band Guitar Boy to perform at the wonderful Wonder Cabinet at Occidental College in April.

And finally, I will be in Yerevan, Armenia for the month of July to lead "Physical Translating" a workshop on body-based writing for women. It will culminate in a reading during the WOW Collective's "Art Intervention" at the Women's Resource Center in Yerevan on July 31st. This is something that I am really looking forward to, considering that candid writing by women about the body in literary works -- anywhere in the world -- is still taboo. And there seems to be a cultural shift underway in Armenia now . . . More updates to come, on my blog, http://onearmenianworld.blogspot.com, which I plan to revive when I am in Yerevan, starting in early July.

June 28, 2010

..


June 25, 2010

Հասկանալիության այսպիսի մեթոդների օգտագործումը զառիվերի վրա է

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(անհամացած հեղուկի կարելիության չափը զինված ուժերի պես ներխուժելով քո փառահեղ դատարկության մեջ)

(գործողությունների մի այնպիսի հանրագումար, որը բացվում է դեպի այդ ուրիշ հասարակությունը)

(թարգմանության շնորհիվ այդ վերած/ցվող լեզուն, հոն ուր երեւան կու գան պատրաստակամութիւն, զոհուելու կամեցողութիւն եւ ուրեմն խորք)

(հեռու չէ երբեք այդպիսի իրավիճակի մը պարագային վատնումի՝ ավելի շուտ Անտոնիոնիական լռությունների կամ միմյանց այլևս ասելու բան չունեցողների, քան սպասվում էր)

(է, տրամադրելու առումով)

(քանի դեռ չես կատարում հոդից դուրս ընկած դարաշրջանի անսպասելի փոփոխության դրսևորման համար անհրաժեշտ ու երևութական տեղի կորուստը, նայելով բարձր առաստաղին և իրոք մոտ տասնվեց տարօրինակ օր չիմանալով, թե ով ես)

(իր հերթին, պիտի անտեսվի հաջորդների կողմից` մնալով միայն տեխնոլոգիաների հիշողության տեղավորված քաղաքի միաժամանակյա գոյակցման ձևերից մեկում)

(բանալացումից հետո նորից սարսափի մեթոդների ապահովության ներքո, գծի այս կողմը սակայն)

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June 22, 2010

chère L.




Hier, Je me promenais paresseusement sur la rue Mont Royal imaginant les balcons dentelés de ta ville.

La pluie voulait se venger ce jour-là quand on s’est cachées derrière cette Eglise à forniquer langoureusement. Tu craignais le blasphème, et moi émue, j’arrosais les marguerites qui furtivement, s’échappaient en dessous de ta jupe fripée.
Le soir dans son vieux salon improvisé, ta mère nous avait offert du thé avec du mouraba de framboises. Elle avait le regard fixé sur ta jupe et ma main qui, maladroitement manipulait la tasse chaude et sucrée. Le silence pesait fort. La voisine grignotait des semushkas attentive à la série télévisée qui ne cessait de montrer des femmes en sanglot.
Tu souriais mesquine tout en sachant que la réalité ne correspondrait jamais à cette scène qui se déroulait lentement devant nos yeux.
V. avait raison je n’aurai jamais du venir dans ce coin maudit. Les ruines pesaient affreusement sur mon cœur et j’avais envie de vomir. Ta mère nous racontait qu’à Bakou ou elle était née, les maisons étaient plus belles, les gens mieux habillés et la vie plus intéressante. J’étais triste pour elle. Et toi tu n’écoutais plus. Tu ne voulais plus entendre, ces gémissements infinis d’une vie interrompue. Tu détestais même ce thé qui n’arrêtait pas de couler tout au long d’une journée, à travers toute une vie.

Embrasse ta mère de ma part,

je t’offrirai des marguerites.

B.

Pleased to meet you!

To the readers and writers of "Queering Yerevan,"

This is my first official post and I would like to thank everyone for inviting me! I will be in Hyastan exactly one month from yesterday. I am a visual artist using photography, video, installation and performance art working with themes of gender identity, the accuracy of historical representations, myth-making, bodily limitation, power dynamics, queerness, oppression and diasporan identity.

Here are a couple of my video pieces from the past several years--

www.vimeo.com/12657018 
www.vimeo.com/12647535 
www.vimeo.com/12648192

Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon
video

Basic Conversational Armenian
video

June 21, 2010

video

June 19, 2010

bolory spasum en hastat andzreva mi tex





June 15, 2010

A paper presented at the American Comparative Literature Association's Annual Conference

Nelli Sargsyan
ACLA Annual Meeting
New Orleans, Louisiana
April 3, 2010

“Interrogating the Cosmopolitan: Curving and Carving a Queer Discursive Space within the Armenian Heteronormative Nationalism”

Like many, I am skeptical of the term cosmopolitanism: rather, of the ways in which it is most often defined, theorized, and applied: focused on nurturing “a citizen of the world,” as a habit of mind and way of life; referencing Kant’s ethic of hospitality; or Mignolo’s planetary conviviality (Strand 2010), transcending the local loyalties, being part of a global community. But, who is this “citizen,” what is their class, ethnicity, gender, race, and so on? How do they engage with the global? What constitutes this “world”? Certain regions, cities, networks? Is it possible “to be a stranger nowhere”? From the perspective of various feminisms, these definitions point more to those excluded and unaccounted for. Could it be, then, that the different images of cosmopolitanism are ideological attempts to conceal the contradictory lived experiences (Koczanowicz in Strand 2010)? Why yes, or why not?

The term cosmopolitanism itself has been critically dissected for some time now (as Western cosmopolitanism vs. Eastern; new cosmopolitanism vs. old; cosmopolitanism from the center vs. from the periphery; from the top vs. from the bottom, and so on). More often than not, however, cosmopolitanism itself as an ideal and practice has been gendered heterosexual and with that, often male, and with that, of particular race, or of particular class, hence hardly inclusive, even when termed rooted, situated, flowing from the local rather than in opposition to it. Often heterosexist itself, and often racist, not recognizing the situated differences of the particularities, and the uneven participation that people have in what is termed cosmopolitan through their lived experiences, it does not render itself as a useful lens for analysis. For the purposes of my paper, in which I deal with counter-hegemonic female voices that challenge the imposed monolithic heteronormativity of the nationalist discourse of the Republic of Armenia, I find it more useful to let these counter-hegemonic female voices unhinge the cosmopolitan.

Although the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia has been modified in its treatment of gender minorities, the societal contempt for non-heterosexual people is still daunting. Unlike the concept of male gayness, female non-heterosexuality has been rejected a discursive space within the nationalist heteronormativity of the Armenian society. In this paper I explore the identities that a group of (Armenian) lesbian, bisexual, and straight women artists invoke in different spaces, historicizing queer women’s presence and promoting their advocacy work for queer women on their online blog.

I attempt to understand how and how successfully these artists, art critics, writers, and activists articulate and represent their identities in an LGBT ignorant or condemning Armenian society. I argue that although locally rooted and articulated, the Armenian queer artists, through their use of techno-, media-, and ideoscapes – sharing information on similar struggles and various successful untanglings of these struggles, nevertheless, route towards their imagined global communities of women, artists, LGBT people that sustain their local struggles and advocacy. In so doing, the artists act as democratic agents in the local society through various activist and art projects, more successfully representing their queer identities among many other identities they articulate, at the same time complicating and nuancing what it means to be cosmopolitan.

I address the various layers of my research question through analyzing the material that can be found on the Women Oriented Women (or WOW) collective’s project blog called “Queering Yerevan” along with the articles and other blogs that have been written regarding and in response to this collective, its events, and blog.

The societal attitudes coupled with the homophobic law enforcers hold heterosexuality as the only acceptable form of relationship and frame homosexuality as an illness or a national security threat and complicate the coming out of many homosexual individuals in Armenia. Out of the estimated 4,000 registered NGOs in Armenia, only a few have openly campaigned for and supported the human rights of LGBT people. Homosexuality is a taboo in the Armenian society that people often share with very few family members and friends. Albeit changing, the traditional roles designated for women (those of mother and wife) are still predominant.

The concept of human rights is perceived by many in Armenia as a Western notion, and the closeness with Europe means threatened institution of marriage and ethnocultural identity (ILGA report 35). Mass media contributes to these circulating homophobic discourses of impending loss of cultural identity. So does the Armenian Apostolic Church, promoting and nurturing the already existing homophobia by framing homosexuality as a “grave sin” (34). Although under the Armenian constitution, all Armenian citizens irrespective of sexual orientation and religion among other things, have the same right to legal protection, in actuality LGBT people do not have any guarantee that their rights will be protected by state institutions (such as courts) or law enforcement agencies. Politicians often employ the word “homosexual” in an attempt to denigrate their opponents.

Homosexuality has very limited coverage in the Armenian mass media. If the topic is covered, oftentimes it is tainted with scorn and irony. The Armenian LGBT people have very limited influence on the kind of information that goes out regarding their sexual orientation and gender identity. Most importantly, within this hegemonic heteronormativity the undesirability and unacceptability of “homosexuality” is gendered “male,” depriving women of a discursive site of “non-heterosexuality” (Butler 1991).

Data Analysis

As I mentioned earlier in the paper, “Queering Yerevan” is a WOW project aiming at queering the self and the city of Yerevan of 2000s that challenges the established topographies of both the urban space and the body of the individual within that space. This is an attempt of re-imagining the physical space differently from the normatively imposed topographies. The authors re-imagine their map(s) and signal various scales by referencing and blogging on: (1) local (Armenian) and international arts, artistic experimentation, writing, film, and exhibition in general; (2) issues of interest to women and women artists; (3) feminisms; (4) Diaspora Armenian artists and writers; (5) LGBT issues (both local and global; both art related and general); (6) human rights (locally and regionally).

The WOWers’ awareness of the marginalized role of women in general, and the societal lack of knowledge of or interest in queer women, in particular, inform the strategies that they employ in the articulation of their identities. Hence, through their project, they seek to foster a safer environment for queer women in Armenia, where “a) queer women are oppressed by both women and men and; b) queer women’s culture is unknown to or misunderstood by the majority of Armenians (Queering Yerevan, accessed on March 24, 2009),” echoing Rich’s claim that heterosexism is a result of male dominance over both female and male nonheteronormativity (Risman 2004).

The bloggers are physically located in different countries on at least three continents: Egypt in Africa, Armenia in Europe or in Asia depending on your perspective, and the US in North America, to name a few. Sometimes the new places and spaces that they travel to or through, whether within the country they reside in or outside of it, trigger issues relevant to the project of queering the physical space and self, so they blog from these newly queered and queering locations.

The blog is organized in two languages: Armenian and English with occasional posts of exhibition or festival schedule of events in Europe, or an article about the collective in German, Dutch, or French. Most often than not, the posts are in English and Armenian. Sometimes, however, they are only in Armenian or English. So why do the bloggers code-switch and when? Is this a metaphorical switching?

I viewed code switching from a couple of different perspectives; first, the technical mastery of the languages that the bloggers have. Most of the members of the collective are from Armenia. Two of them are from Canada. However, one of the local Armenian artists does not speak English. She always blogs with images and her comments are always in Armenian. The other local Armenian bloggers blog in both English and Armenian. Occasionally Diasporan Armenians living in Armenia or the Diaspora would blog or comment in Armenian and English, but seem to be more comfortable when blogging in English.

Second, I looked at the kinds of posts and the language utilized. The posts on local activist projects on women’s rights or LGBT issues are usually in both Armenian and English (with comments mostly in Armenian, a few in English). This signals the rooted locality as well as routing alignment to a larger scale translocal community.

The posts on the success and activities of Diasporan Armenian authors and artists would be in English. English, in a way, is the medium connecting them to the larger scale communities they imagine themselves as part of: Diasporan Armenian LGBT communities and through them the larger global LGBT community as one route among many.

If a blogger posts her own short stories or parts of her book, those posts are in Armenian. This indexes an identity of a local writer. One of the bloggers, who herself is a writer, translates parts of a Diasporan-Armenian writer’s award winning book into Armenian and posts them. In so doing, the blogger simultaneously projects an identity of a writer, translator, and LGBT activist.

The issue of translation as a hegemonic disciplining tool has had frequent coverage on the blog. The posts on translation and ideology of 2008-2009 were in Armenian, now they are in both Armenian and English. Through these posts the blogger analyzes the danger of the presence of the hegemonic citizen disciplining systems through the translated piece of work, thus articulating her identity of a professional, reflexive translator, an activist contemplating the mechanisms of suppression employed by disciplining institutions in an attempt to make sense of the hegemonic structures within which inequalities take place (Risman 2004). The bloggers’ attempts at subverting translation seem to be coming to fruition through their next activist project of “Queering Translation” scheduled for August of 2010, about which they blog in both Armenian and English, invoking scales larger than local for this enterprise.

To historicize the queer women’s presence in the Armenian reality, the bloggers post poems by a female Armenian poet of early 20th century (that they have located as a result of their archival research) and reinterpret it, identifying themes of lesbian love. Through their archival work of bringing out this poet, the WOW members attempt not only to claim discursive space synchronically but also diachronically.

These posts seem to invoke both local and global scales at the same time trying to keep the collective rooted in the local and connecting it to the global community of queer artists. The opportunity to publish the collective’s two year correspondence exploring “queer identity, language, and culture” (Queering Yerevan, accessed on March 28, 2010) in Armenian and English that has become possible in the large part due to the on-line fundraising efforts of a New York based LGBT Armenian organization is yet another instance of the collective’s successful transnational networks at work.

Throughout their blog, the bloggers often provide a metacommentary on their fragmented identities and the impossibility of having one stable, static identity, thus acknowledging its fluidity, malleability, instability, and undefinability. In their thoughts on identity the bloggers refer to Butler, Beauvoir, Bakhtin, Derrida, and more recently Ingraham. Through involving these scholars, the WOW members transcend their own locality and the actual lived difficulties and engage with a community of scholars in a discursive site that allows them to make sense of the daily as well as attempts to educate those uninformed.

The one post that I would like to dwell on as a site where this collective applies its strategies, is their open letter against intolerance to the ombudsperson of Armenia, posted in both Armenian and English. I argue that the WOW collective, is the base, in de Certeau’s (1984) terms, that makes its members strong. It is the castle, albeit, according to one of the members, based on “dis-identification” and “dissensus” that they can go back to, to regroup and rethink the move that will follow. In their crafting of the open letter to the ombudsperson of Armenia the WOW collective members frame their rights as part of global human rights identified in the UN declaration against discrimination based on sexual orientation that Armenia signed in December of 2008. The WOW collective expresses their key concern about the “resurgence of hostile rhetoric against homosexuals both in official and oppositional media” and supports their claim by pointing out the lack of professionalism and research on the part of the journalists who author those pieces.

The WOW members problematize the societal perception of ascribing maleness to homosexuality, on the one hand, and senior public officials’ view of homosexuality as a threat to national security (or a pathology), on the other. By doing this, they claim a place and presence in the gender identity discourse of Armenia. They point to specific media outlets that publish unresearched homophobic articles misrepresenting and misconstruing homosexuality. The WOW-ers frame the above homophobic views as reinforcing patriarchy in the Armenian society and promoting the dissemination of hatred through inaccurate information.

They challenge the authority of the local public figures when framing the comments of the latter as uninformed. They frame their own response as supported by civic groups and individuals concerned with human rights, urging public officials and individuals to become familiar with the issues Armenian homosexual men and women face.

Thus, in this letter WOW frames the cultural conservatives as homophobic, uninformed, and insular (assigning them a smaller scale) and reminds them of the obligations Armenia as a nation state has undertaken by signing the aforementioned UN declaration (assigning to this a global scale that they see themselves as part of). As I mentioned at the beginning of the paper, the collective condemns any act of human rights violations (in all its manifestations, physical as well as structural) not only locally, but also regionally. At the end of 2009, the collective posted an entry on their solidarity with an LGBT organization in Georgia the members of which had experienced political violence at the hands of the Georgian police.

Conclusions

The WOW collective’s political agenda, then, is put forth through aesthetic projects. The latter allow more room for the performativity of various identities rather than only queer identity. The WOW members situate themselves within the global by the force of the imagination of belongings: belonging to a global community of women (sharing a history of various oppressions); belonging to a global community of women artists and aesthetes; belonging to the global community of queer women. Yet at the same time, as Tsing (2000) points out, by pulling the various global belongings together through locally rooted projects, the WOW collective signals different identities at different times. The WOWers act as democratic agents, whether they perform their identities as women’s rights’ advocates, or queer women’s rights’ advocates, or children’s rights’ advocates when protesting against child abuse, or LGBT people’s rights’ advocates. Through their activist efforts the WOW-ers attempt to curve the existing discursive space of homosexuality, gendered male, by carving a space for queer women.

They seek media participation in the raising of the public’s awareness of the various oppressions that women, in general, and queer women, in particular, face in the Armenian society, partly in an attempt to address the gap between the queers depicted by the local Armenian mass media (weak, sick, promiscuous, dirty) and the identities of intelligent, creative, talented, and strong women they project through the discourse they develop within the walls of their blog that is nourished by experiences elsewhere (the US, Canada, Egypt, the Netherlands, Armenia), evoking their global connectedness through their local projects (Tsing 2000).

Thus, the WOWers are attempting to queer the mainstream society, albeit cautious not to become an instrument for the hegemonic system they are attempting to challenge and disidentify themselves from, in an attempt not to reinforce the normalcy of the patriarchal hegemony.

The historicity of the lack of place in public discourse that the collective is trying to claim, tainted with the homophobic coverage of the Armenian media and the blessing of the Armenian Apostolic Church makes it difficult to come across. There is a significant scalar incongruity between the hegemonic cultural conservative media agenda, and women’s and LGBT human rights’ agendas of the WOW collective, in that the former is predominantly in Armenian aimed at the local Armenian audience and local scale, and the latter is dialogic and evoking larger scale, and often jumping the local Armenian scale. The WOWers attempt to understand where and how the inequalities they experience as queers, as women, as queer Armenian women, take place, to better deconstruct and fight them (Risman 2004).

So then, do the transnational networks that the WOWers nurture and develop (and that sustain them) make them cosmopolitan, or their blog a cosmopolitan multi-author artistic, and often literary production bordering creative non-fiction? I suppose the answer would stem from your perspective on and definition of cosmopolitanism. To account for the potentially cosmopolitan engagements of counter-hegemonic subjects, Pollock et al’s suggestion of cosmopolitanisms giving way to the plurality of modes and histories, much like the diverse discourses and differentiations in feminisms (in the plural) that are “not necessarily shared in degree or in concept regionally, nationally, or internationally” (Pollock et. al 2000: 584) is instructive, so is one of the aspects of Mignolo’s de-colonial cosmopolitanism that acknowledges multiple trajectories and aims at a “trans-modern world based on pluriversality rather than universality” (Strand 2009:106). This cosmofeminism, then, would, perhaps, allow for a space, where various pluriversalities would enter “into a broader debate based on a recognition of their own situatedeness” (Pollock et. al 2000: 584-585).


Works Cited

Appadurai, Arjun
1996 Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Butler, Judith
1991 Imitation and Gender Insubordination. In Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. Charles Lemert ed. Pp 637-648. Wesleyan University: Westview Press.
Carroll, A., and Sheila Quinn
2009 Forced Out: LGBT People in Armenia. Report on ILGA-Europe/COC fact-finding mission.
De Certeau, Michel
1984 The Practice of Everyday Life. University of California.
Pollock, S, Homi K. Bhabha, Carol A. Breckenridge, and Dipesh Chakrabarty
2000 Cosmopolitanisms. In Public Culture 12 (3): 577-589.
Ridgeway, Cecilia L., Shelley J. Correll
2004 Unpacking the Gender System: A Theoretical Perspective on Gender Beliefs and Social Relations. In Gender and Society 18(4): 510-531.
Risman, Barbara J.
2004 Gender as a Social Structure: Theory Wrestling with Activism. In Gender and Society 18(4): 429-450.
Strand, Torill
2010 Cosmopolitanism in the Making. In Studies in Philosophy and Education 29:103–109.
Tsing, Anna
2000 The Global Situation. In Cultural Anthropology 15(3): 327-360.

June 14, 2010

Chère L.

j’embrasserai ce ventre endolori. j’effacerai avec mes lèvres toutes les cicatrices.
je ferai un bandage de mes cheveux et soulagerai tes entrailles déchiquetées.
je murmurerai une douce berceuse, blottie entre tes seins pour embaumer ton corps d’un bonheur insolite.
et j’attendrai patiemment ton retour.

Dans le jardin, cinq femmes parlent de leur vie. le chagrin est incontournable. j’irai les rejoindre sans faire de bruit.

Le bruissement des feuilles marmonne la vérité, celle de 5 femmes qui ne sauront jamais que sous l’arbre, je touche du pieds les empreintes dissipées d’un temps qui un jour disparaîtra à jamais.

je ferme mes yeux et j'hume avec jouissance l'odeur de tes cheveux.

B.

գյուղատնտեսական ֆիլմերի համամիութենական ֆեստիվալ






June 11, 2010

chère L.




ce qu’il te faut c’est une révolution clitoridienne. une façon de parler incongrue qui mènera à ta perte. C’est incontournable!

je passerai des nuits entières à rétrécir la mémoire, pour en effacer les parcelles qui obstruent. il faut naitre sans père ni mère, pour bien comprendre la gravité de la vie choisie.

je n’accepterai point les excuses ridicules présentées dans ta dernière lettre. le romantisme te ronge le cœur jusqu’au fin fond de tes entrailles. il faut sans cesse relire Madame Bovary pour comprendre son état maniaco-dépressive la rendant «incapable de comprendre ce qu'elle n'éprouvait pas, comme de croire à tout ce qui ne se manifestait pas par des formes convenues».

ma Bovary à moi! je te lâche uniquement pour un instant et cet instant se perd doucement dans la sottise de tes émotions incroyablement effarées.

tasse de café et sarma, mais quelles foutaises!

tout ce que tu as ressenti à ce moment, tu l’as entièrement désiré. il faut arrêter enfin de tout dissimuler à soi-même.

la culpabilité te ronge, je n’y peux rien.
il faut se libérer.
doucement.
sereinement.
mais impossible de le faire sans briser une partie de soi.
je ramasserai les débris. religieusement.
les garderai dans les paumes de ma main. je les serrai fort jusqu'à saigner et là je me reposerai avec un sourire, comblée.
ton visage éternellement gravé sur mon ventre paumé.

j'embrasse tes cheveux,

B.

...որ զանգիր





June 10, 2010

Մաս 8. Զարհուրելի կանայք

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(դառնալը, Օրեստես, որ ծայրանում է բախումից)

(սովորաբար՝ երկուսը միասին ու կարծես հենց այն նպատակով, որ ճգնաժամի փաստից ավելի ընդգծվի)

(իջա քեզ տեսակցության հարկադրաբար սնուցման սենյակում չտեսնելու վայրենացած ռունգիդ մեջ, կոկորդումդ՝ բարակ կարմիր փողրակը)

(ոմանք պարունակելով նախկին ժամանակահատվածներից վերաբերված, վերադարձված էտյուդներ, որոնցից ապավարժվելու համար ցուցարարները փորձում են մոտենալ)

(փորձում են հասկանալ անընդհատ փոփոխվող շարժումը)

(պատմության զարգացումն ու ուսումնասիրումը ենթադրում է նաև անհասանելիության ձևվածքի առկայություն)

(ու չկարողացա մնալ կողքիդ, որ հետո ցուցմունքներով չհաստատեմ սեղաններին որևէ հարյուրավորների դիմադրության կասեցման տեսիլը, թող այս ստույգ այլաբանության շնորհիվ կարծես թե տեղի չունենա)

(կամ լինի միայն մասնակիորեն, քանի որ նրանց հայացքն անդադար է, անկաշկանդ ու բարոյազուրկ, բայց ոչ անբարոյական)

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June 9, 2010

Dear B.




It was very difficult to reply to your last letter. What you are asking me to do is almost impossible and the pain of not doing it nearly unbearable. I searched for you the other day at the same café where we used to meet last year. I understand that it is difficult for you to accept that I have chosen to stay here where nothing is familiar, where people like you and me would never be. You are back there, where everything is more possible.

In my world you are still an element of perversion.

I saw your face yesterday in the middle of the black thick residue at the bottom of my coffee cup. I usually never read my own cup, but your face made me want to know more. My grandmother would have said: “Ghsmet e!” but luck happens only when you believe in it. I lost that belief when I let you cook the sarma last summer. The curse started then, I touched the food never intended to be prepared. I don’t regret anything. I just wish you could understand my sorrow.

I miss everything we used to do together. I miss the nice quite walks up on Nalbandyan st. where we tenderly held hands. I miss the nights when we rested on the stairs of the cascade watching endlessly the busy city going to sleep. Hours of reinventing lives that would never become ours, moments of intense emotions, love unspeakable. Almost telling everything, risking it all. Then stopping just in time to not vanish completely.

I am writing this letter, hoping it will never reach you, knowing that my words will disappear somehow while crossing the oceans.

Kissing gently your eyes,

L.

June 8, 2010

she will google translate :)

One pebble at a time
Je les lance dans le creux
Tout ce que tu m’as dit
J’ai envie de les gratter de ma peau
Les mots qui font mal
Les mots qui assomment

Keeping them safe under my chin

un verre de vin, deux, trois…
ca ne donne pas le droit
les mots qui, avec langueur
chuchotés dans mon cou
tombent au fond du ventre vide
dans un fracas énorme
ces mots là je les dégomme
les renvoie
au fin fond d’un tiroir profond
j’écris en français pour toi exprès
pour que tu ne comprennes pas
ces mots là
à voix basse
ces mots si facile à renier

google translate ne suffit pas
pour comprendre ceci
il faudrait les déchiffrer un à un
les décortiquer gentiment et en faire toute une entité
et même après il faut être prêt
à assumer ce qui en sortirait
ce qui resterait de toute cette désuétude

words drunk with a glass of wine
whispered gently in my ear
will stay there for a while
since you will deny every one of them
these words will expire soon
and then
je les jetterai dans le coin de la rue qui mène vers ce parc où on n’a jamais été.
dans le parc où seulement elles y étaient il y a cent ans.

Մի քանի տող Արաքսի ապագայի հիշողություններից

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(գործս մինչ այդ ու դեռ չցուցադրված որտեղ որ ասվել էր)

(անդրշիրիմյան պերֆորմանսների սենտիմենտալ ներկայում, այլ որտեղից պիտի բաժանվի իր ծաղրելի ավարտից, անցագրելով վերջի գալուստը)

(անշուշտ կա ուղղակի գրոտեսկայնություն, որն իր մեջ կը պարունակէ ըմբոստական շարժում մը)

(բայց յուրաքանչյուր նոր գործ իր տեղն է պահանջում, այդուհանդերձ, 5:41ին էքսկուրսիայի սկզբունքով ասվածից չտեսար ու երևի թե չես էլ տեսնի ցույցի դրվածը քանի դեռ նմանակումը հավատարիմ է մնացել)

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June 5, 2010

"Physical Translating"

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A creative writing workshop
Saturdays, 10 am - 1 pm, July 10, July 17, July 24
The Women's Resource Center, Zarubyan 34


"Physical Translating" is a body-based creative writing workshop for women facilitated by writer Nancy Agabian (see bio below). It will take place in conjunction with the WOW (Women-Oriented Women) Collective's 3rd annual art intervention July 31-August 1, this year on Translation, at the Women's Resource Center in Yerevan. In three Saturday morning three-hour sessions, workshop participants will collaborate to write prose (fiction and/or nonfiction, in English, Armenian, and/or other languages) about physical experiences -- in illness, disconnection, pain, joy, experimentation, athleticism, sexuality, reproduction and otherwise.

To stimulate discussion and prompt writing exercises, we will read short texts (in English and Armenian) by a range of contemporary multicultural women writers (possibly including Margaret Atwood, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Audre Lorde, Staceyann Chin), including Armenian writers (mostly selected from the anthologies Deviation, Matnashoonch and Der Hovanessian's The Other Voice). Creative movement/performance exercises will also be incorporated to inspire writing. The series will culminate in a reading of new work during WOW's weekend art intervention. A special section of the WRCA's journal Feminist will feature work from "Physical Translating."

The workshop is open to all women, regardless of national origin, age, class, physical ability, and sexual orientation. The project will be limited to twelve participants of varied writing experience, beginning writers welcome. Please send a page describing your writing experience and why you are interested in the workshop to nancyagabian@yahoo.com (Այս էլ.փոստի հասցեն պահպանված է spam bots-երից, պետք է Javascript-ին հնարավորություն տալ դիտելու համար) by June 19th. Please also state whether you will be able to attend all three sessions and the reading. Members will be notified of their acceptance by June 26th.

Please contact Nancy with questions and requests for further information at her above email address.

_____________________
Nancy Agabian is the author of Princess Freak (Beyond Baroque), a collection of poems and performance texts, and the memoir Me as her again: True Stories of an Armenian Daughter. She is one of the tri-authors of (An)daratsutian Mej [In the (Un)Space], an experimental book in English, French and Armenian. Her nonfiction and poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the U.S. and Armenia. A Fulbright scholar to Armenia for 2006-07, she is working on a nonfiction novel on personal freedom in post-Soviet Armenia. In New York, where she lives, she teaches writing at Queens College and New York University and has been coordinating Gartal, an Armenian and multicultural reading series since 2002. A community workshop leader since 1994, she previously led a writing workshop for women, sponsored by Utopiana and CEC Artslink, at WRCA in 2007.

June 4, 2010

June 1, 2010

medzmama* interrupted


wondering how I got there
wondering how I found her
she was almost an illusion
drifting between the dusty letters
whispering a secret recipe for subeoregs

tpov dolma is my favorite
(i used to call it sarma in another life, sad isn’t it?)
i couldn’t resist the smell
medzmama lost her vagina in the desert that took her from Anatolia to Lebanon
she is all about caring hands and wrinkled smiles
the rest (or what remained of her) is hidden under a beige French combinaison


i always thought that she was a man
but when she offered me braided choeregs for Easter I became suspicious

her black and white photo is still on my desk
she looks like an actress from an old Egyptian musical movie

i dedicated her my unique kitchen spices as a token of eternal gratitude
i still want to believe that she is a happy person.
sa tristesse est un bonheur qui coule doucement dans mes entrailles.


*grandma in Armenian, my Armenian