(January 22, 1919 – August 25, 2006)
Silva Gabudikian was an Armenian poet, orator, academician and political activist. One of the best-known Armenian writers of the twentieth century, she is recognized as “the leading poetess of Armenia” and “the grand lady of twentieth century Armenian poetry”.
She was born in Yerevan in a family which had emigrated from Van. Her father was a teacher, an activist of the “Tashnaktsutyun” Party, and an editor. He died of cholera 3 months before his daughter’s birth. She was raised by her mother and grandmother. Gabudikian graduated from Yerevan State University and Moscow’s Gorky Literature Institute. She was a member of the Union of Writers of Armenia and served as deputy of the Supreme Council of the Armenian SSR in 1948.
Her first collection of poems called “Oreree Hed” was published in 1945. She authored 60-70 books of poems and prose in Armenian, and Russian which were translated to English, Georgian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Turkish and other languages. The two main themes of her work were national identity and lyric poetry. Her best-known poem, “A word to my son”, became a “standard verse in asserting national identity”. The last verse goes: “Look, my son, wherever you are, / Wherever you go under this moon, / Even if you forget your mother, / Do not forget your Mother tongue.”
In 1998, Cambridge International Geographic Institute awarded Silva Gabudikian the title of “Woman of the Year”. She was also rewarded with the Nosside International Prize in Rome in 1989, and the St. Mesrob Mashdots order in 2004 in Armenia.
Gabudikian was married to poet Hovhannes. She is buried at the pantheon of Yerevan’s Komitas park.
(April 27, 1915 – March 14, 1984)
Hovhaness Onnig Garabedian was born on April 27, 1915, three days after the massacre of the Armenian intelligentsia during the Armenian Genocide. He spent his childhood during the most tragic times of Armenian history, starving, thirsty and barefoot in his native Alexandropol, (formerly Leninagan, now Gyumri), which had become an enormous orphanage.
In 1935, he attracted attention with his first work, “BEGINNING OF SPRING”. His book of poetry sold out. Novelist Adrbed named the talented poet “Shiraz”, because “this youth’s poems have the fragrance of roses, fresh and covered with dew, like the roses of Shiraz.” (Shiraz was one of Iran’s major cities, famous for its roses and poets). In 1937, he studied Armenian Literature at Yerevan’s State University, and at Moscow’s Maxim Gorky Literature institute. In 1958, Shiraz published the first of a three volume anthology Knar Hayastani (Lyre of Armenia) which include the best examples of his poetry.
Like his contemporary Baruyr Sevag, Shiraz was anti-establishment who fought against corrupt leadership. He was married to famous Armenian poetess Silva Gabudikyan. Their son, Ara Shiraz, was a sculptor. Shiraz had seven children with his second wife, Shushanik. Their son Sipan Shiraz was a poet.
He died and was buried in 1984 at the Gomidas Pantheon, Yerevan, Armenia, along with other distinguished Armenians. Yerevan school #169 and a street in Julfa of Isfahan are named after him. Hovhannes Shiraz’s House-Museum is opened in a 19th Century building in Gyumri.
Shiraz published many books, mostly poetry, but also quartets, parables and translations, and enjoyed the adulation of Armenians everywhere as one of the greatest Armenian poets of the Twentieth Century.
Mgrdich Khrimian Hayrig
ՄԿՐՏԻՉ ԽՐԻՄԵԱՆ ՀԱՅՐԻԿ
(1820 – 1907)
Religious leader, writer, educator, activist, Mgrdich Khrimian Hayrig, was the 125th Catholicos of all Armenians. He was the beacon of faith, and the defender of Armenian national and ethnic values. He is best known for his “Iron Ladle” sermon. Although he received his religious education in his native Van, he went into secular life. He married and settled in Constantinople hoping to continue his education in Europe. For financial reasons, that did not materialize. He taught Armenian language and history at a girls’ school. He was a proponent of equal education for boys and girls.
After the death of his mother and his wife in Van in 1853, he went to Akhtamar, forsaking his secular life. He was ordained a celibate priest, taught, wrote, published, and moved back to Constantinople where he contributed to the national constitution. The focus of his work was his nation and land.
He was elected primate of Daron in 1862, became a bishop, and was affectionately dubbed Hayrig by his people. In 1869 he became Patriarch of Constantinople, however resigned a few years later because of internal strife, and returned to Van to continue his educational work. As the Armenian representative at the Berlin Congress (1878) he presented his people’s grievances to no avail. Upon his return, his “Iron Ladle” sermon called for national self-reliance. In 1891, amid the urging of his people, he was elected Catholicos of all Armenians in abstantae. His tenure was marked by the Hamidian massacres (1895-1896), and upon Hayrig’s urging, czarist intervention for cessation of the atrocities. HH Catholicos Vazken I (1957) has said “Every Armenian has two fathers, his own and Khrimian Hayrig.”
(1869 – 1923)
Prince of Armenian Poets
Hovhannes Toumanian was born in the Lori District of Armenia, to the family of Der-Tatevos, an Armenian priest.
He has written prose, poetry, fairytales, realistic stories, and journalistic work.
“A Drop of Honey”, a legend (based on a medieval Armenian fable) tells how a destructive war breaks out all because of a drop of honey. He is known for “David of Sassoon”, a brilliant rendition of the superb epic of the Armenian people; and “Anoush” rightly considered Toumanian’s masterpiece. He had 10 children.
After primary school in his village, he attended the Nersesian School which he left early, to study on his own. He lived in Tiflis, Georgia, which was a great center of Armenian culture, until his death in 1923.
Toumanian engaged in numerous public and civic activities especially during the Genocide period and the October Revolution in Russia. You might remember the songs Hampartsoom Yayla and Ambi Dageets from the opera “Anoush”.
“Parvana”, depicts the eternal yearnings of unquenchable love; and “The Capture of Fort Temuk” (Tmgapertee Arume) traces the criminal path leading from ambition to treason.
(1809 – 1848)
The founder of modern Armenian Literature. He was the first to write in vernacular, the language of the people. Apovian is considered the father of modern Armenian Pedagogy. He has written about the struggle and hardship of Armenians in Վէրք Հայաստանի “Verk Hayasdanee”.
Born into affluent family, he was educated in seminaries, and in Europe. Climbed Mount Ararat with Estonian Prof. Parrod, as his guide/translator. He took on supervisory positions and tried to introduce modern teaching methods for which he was persecuted. He married a German woman and had a boy and a girl. He left his house one morning never to return. He is presumed to have been killed, or committed suicide. His family members died young as well.
Influential writer, politician, engineer, lawyer and philanthropist, who lived in Constantinople. Zohrab wrote short stories and novellas about life, including “Voices of Conscience,” “Life As It Is,” and “Silent Griefs”. Despite his powerful connections, he was arrested and was martyred in 1915.
Zohrab held a degree in civil engineering but did not practice in that field. He was a respected lawyer in the Ottoman Empire and taught law at the university. He was a member of the Ottoman Parliament. The Zohrab Information Center at the Armenian Diocese in New York is named after him.
Siamanto (Atom Yarjanian)
Siamanto was born in Akn, Asia Minor, in 1878, to prosperous parents, later moved to Constantinople. He was killed during the Armenian Genocide in 1915.
He was well educated. Abdul Hamid’s massacres left a deep impact on him. Like many other Armenian intellectuals, he fled the country for fear of persecution. Upon his father’s death, he studied in Paris at the Sorbonne, Vienna, Zurich and Lausanne in poverty. Upon the proclamation of the new constitution in Turkey, he returned to Constantinople, devoted himself to writing, and supported his younger brothers and sisters. In 1908, along with many other Armenians, he returned to Constantinople. The reason was the change in the Ottoman government which freed him from the fear of persecution.
However, in 1909, the Turkish government made it clear that they were not safe by perpetrating the Adana massacre. Siamanto was once again deeply affected by the bloodshed. These events lead him to write his famous Bloody News from my friend (Կարմիր լուրեր Բարեկամէս Garmir loorer paregames). After the Adana massacres he came to America in 1911 and spent a year in Boston, editing the Armenian paper Hairenik. He then returned to Constantinople. The majority of his work dealt with the suffering of his people during the Armenian Genocide (a period during which he would later be killed).
Born in the Ararat Region of Armenia, with Shiraz, Sevag is considered one of the greatest Armenian poets of all time.
Doctor of Philology from the Yerevan Institute of Literature.
Died in an automobile accident. He had been critical of Soviet corruption. He is buried in the backyard of his home in Zankagadoon, now a museum.
His poem (Անլռելի Զանգակատուն) – the unsilenceable bell tower is dedicated to Gomidas
He is also known for the poem Sartarabad which has been put to music.
Մենք քիչ ենք բայց մեզ հայ են ասում
Մենք մեզ ոչ մէկից չենք գերադասում
բայց մեզ էլ գիտենք
Եւ ինչու չհպարտանանք
կանք պիտի լինենք ու դեռ շատանանք:
We are few, but they call us Armenians,
We do not consider ourselves above anybody else,
We simply recognize ourselves and why not be proud.
We are, we will be and we will multiply.
Popular Western Armenian poet, Vahan Tekeyan was born in Constantinople, Turkey. He attended the local Nersesian, Berberian and Getronagan schools. To evade the Hamidian massacres he traveled to England, France and then to Egypt. Returned to Turkey to travel again to Tiflis, Yerevan and Etchmiadzin. At the beginning of WWI, upon the insistence of friends, he departs for Egypt again and escapes the Genocide. He has published Շիրակ ” Shirag” ,Արեւ “Arev” and Զարթօնք “Zartonk” newspapers. He was instrumental in the formation of the Ramgavar party. He has served as the director of the Melkonian Institue in Cyprus. Tekeyan’s poetry is published in the following volumes: Հոյակապ Յարութիւն “Splendid Resurrection”, Կէս գիշերէն մինչեւ Արշալոյս “From Midnight to Dawn”,Սէր “Love”, Հայերգութիւն “Hayerkootyoon”, and Տաղարան “Dagharan”. The Tekeyan Cultural Association is posthumously named after him.
Shavarsh Nartouni was born in Armash, Turkey. He is a prominent intellectual best known for writing Western Armenian Prose. During the Armenian Genocide, at age 17, Shavarsh Nartouni wrote Աքսորի Օրագիր (Diary of Exile). Through the pages of the diary, the reader encounters the cruel policy of the the Young Turk government in organizing the massive deportation and massacres of Western Armenians. It was during this time that he also wrote one of his most famous works, Անձրեւին Ձորը (The Valley of Rain) where he speaks of the challenges the Armenian people. He was often concerned over the difficulties of maintaining the Armenian language and identity, which is clearly exemplified in his writings. Nartuni was a medical doctor and published the “Նոր Բոյժ” monthly. Among his literary work: «Մեղեդինե՜ր, մեղեդինե՜ր» (Melodies, melodies) , «Բանե՜ր, բանե՜ր… ի՜նչ բաներ» (things, things, what things), «Երուսաղէ՜մ… Երուսաղէ՜մ» (Jersualem, Jerusalem), «Կանանչ բաժակով» (in a green goblet), «Ջրվէժ» (the falls). After World War I, Nartouni settled in Paris, France where he died.
He was a major poet of the early 20th century. At the age of 31, he was deported and murdered during the Armenian Genocide. Siamanto and Varoujan used legends, epics, and pagan history as the metaphor for their aspirations for deliverance from oppression and the rebirth of Armenian arts.
Varoujan produced four major volumes of poetry: Shivers (Սարսուռներ, 1906, Venice); The Heart of the Race (Ցեղին սիրտը, 1909, Constantinople); Pagan Songs (Հեթանոս երգեր, 1912, Constantinople); and The Song of the Bread (Հացին երգը, 1921, Constantinople), an unfinished manuscript of a fifty page collection of poems reportedly saved by bribing Turkish officials, it was published posthumously in 1921. These poems celebrate village life of the Armenian peasants of Anatolia.
Varoujan, born in the Prknig village of Sivas, Turkey, attended the local school. He was sent in 1896, during the Hamidian massacres, to Istanbul, where he attended the Mkhitarian school, and then the Mourad-Rafaelian school of Venice. In 1905 at Ghent University in Belgium, he studied literature, sociology and economics. He taught at his village in 1909, married Araksi Varoujan in 1912, and became the principal of St. Gregory the Illuminator School in Istanbul.
(July 15, 1872 – June 9, 1954)
Arshag Chobanian was an Armenian short story writer, journalist, editor, poet, translator, literary critic, playwright, philologist, and novelist. He was a contemporary of the pre and post-Genocide Armenian literati. He studied at the Getrongagan school in Constantinople, and began writing, publishing, and translating works from French at a very young age.
His literary output is an homage to Armenian literature and culture. His romantic poetry is published in «Արշալոյսի ձայներ» Voices of Dawn (1891),«Թրթռումներ» Vibrations (1892) and «Քերթուածներ» Poems (1908). He has also penned the psychological novella «Թուղթի փառք» the glory of paper (1892). His short stories were published as «Տղու հոգիներ» The Souls of Adolescents (1923), and his plays were compiled in «Մութ խաւեր» Dark Layers (1893), and «Հրաշքը» The Miracle (1923). He fled Turkey to Paris during the Hamidian massacres and settled there permanently.
(1842 – 1901)
Srpouhi Dussap was an Armenian feminist author, one of the first Armenians to write about gender equality. She was born in Constantinople to an upper class Armenian family during a period of cultural reawakening for Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Her mother, Nazli Vahan, was a staunch advocate for women’s education and the founder of several charitable and educational organizations to help Armenian girls. Srpouhi was educated at a local French school until age 10, and then at home with her older brother who tutored her in French, Greek, Italian, classical literature, science, and history.
She traveled and studied in Western Europe. Being tutored by famous Armenian poet Mgrdich Beshiktashlian, rekindled her deep affection for her language and culture. Her first writings were in Classical Armenian. In 1870, she married French musician, Paul Dussap, who supported her literary goals, and together they ran a salon where French and Armenian intellectuals met to discuss literature and social issues. She was an inspiration to other Armenian women writers such as Zabel Yesayan, In 1879, Dussap became the head of the Philomathic Armenian Women’s Association, which trained Armenian women to teach in Armenian girls’ schools in Anatolia. She wrote a series of articles on women’s rights, specifically on rights to education, employment, and social autonomy. Dussap’s concern with inequality for women was developed in her novels Mayda (1883), Siranush (1884) and Araksia (1887).
Most gifted Armenian Romantic poet who died of consumption at the age of twenty. An avid learner, despite poverty, he managed to graduate school in Constantinople, and in addition to Armenian, knew Greek, Turkish, French and English. At age thirteen, he had already made translations from French and English authors, and had written several original poems, only one of which has come down to us.
During his short life, he wrote 43 poems, 10-11 historical and tragic plays, 13 letters, and a eulogy spoken at the death of a friend. His plays were staged during his lifetime with no material compensation for his work. Most of his poetry was written in the last year of his life, after he found out about his fatal illness, and it contains his finest verses.
In a letter dated December 10, 1871, and addressed to his youngest brother, the future patriarch of Jerusalem, Tourian writes, “ I, who loved only songs in this world, want my last breath to be a song.” He also says, ‘to sing, to pray, to love, what a poetic, what a perfect life,” and he “sang” to the very end. According to published accounts, four thousand mourners followed the casket of the young poet. Tourian lived, suffered, and died like a true Romantic.
(April 14, 1914 – July 17, 1993)
Hamo Sahyan, also Hmayak Sahaki Grigoryan was an Armenian poet and translator born in Lor, Syunik, Armenia. He graduated from the Baku Pedagogical institute in 1939. In 1941 he returned to Yerevan, then served in the Soviet Navy during World War II. He worked in “Avangard” and “Voznee” newspapers, edited “Kragan tert”.
The first collection of his poems was published in 1946. Sahyan was awarded by the State Prize of Armenia for his “Sezam, Patsvir” (1972) book. He is best known for his “Nayeerian Talar Pardee” patriotic poem. His poetry is marked by his love for country, nature and mankind. Sahyan died in 1993 and was buried at Komitas Pantheon in Yerevan.
(August 18, 1876 – November 24, 1927)
Shushanik Kurghinian was born on August 18, 1876, in Aleksandrapol (present-day Gyumri). At a the age of 17 she began her efforts to ameliorate women’s social situations. Her first poem appeared shortly after in 1899 in Taraz. Growing up in extreme poverty, Kurghinian immersed herself in the revolutionary underground and wrote some of her best poems during the 1907-08 period during which she secretly published her first collection of 43 poems under the title “Ringing of the Dawn”, which also included “The Workers.”
Her poetry gave voice to those in society who had none and raised unjust social conditions that led to the exploitation of women. She wrote about women’s struggle for equal rights and emancipation in works like “The Seamstress,” “Sold,” and “Let Us Unite”.
Shushanik Kurghinian has selflessly dedicated her life to improve the social condition of working-class women and the socially outcast members of her society.
(October 30, 1875 – October 17, 1957)
Isahakyan studied at St. Etchmiadzin Kevorkyan seminary (1889-92), and in 1893 attended Leipzig University. His literary and political careers started early. Upon return from Leipzig, he was arrested and imprisoned for his political activities supporting Western Armenia in 1896. He believed PanTurkism aimed to obliterate Armenians. Upon release in 1897, he published his first compilation of poems “Songs and Wounds”, before being arrested again for activities “against Russia’s Tsar” and sent to Odessa. The lyricism and emotion in his poems earned him immediate popularity. His works are filled with love of the homeland, sorrow and lament, meditations about injustice, and respect for human dignity deeply connected with the history and culture of the Armenian people.Famous Armenian lyric poet, writer, academician, member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences and a prominent public activist, Avedik Issahakyan was born in Alexandropol (present day Gyumri), Armenia.
Issahakyan studied Literature and History of Philosophy at the University of Zurich. He returned to his homeland in 1902 and then moved to Tiflis. Between 1899-1906 he wrote “The Songs of Haiduks”, the first collection of poems in classical Armenian poetry dedicated to the Armenian freedom struggle. In 1908, with 158 other Armenian intellectuals, he was imprisoned for six months in Tiflis, freed on bail, unwilling to stay in the Caucuses he emigrated in 1911 travelling through Europe.
Issahakyan wrote about the Armenian Genocide in “The White Book.” He wrote social and political articles discussing the Armenian cause, reunification of Armenia and the restoration of the Armenian government. Images of the massacres are persistent in such poems as “Snow has Covered Everything…”, “To Armenia…”, and “Here Comes Spring Again.” The author returned to Soviet Armenia in 1936 where he published poems and stories and continued his social work.
Russian poet A. Blok described Issahakyan as “the first class poet, fresh and simple, whom one, perhaps, cannot find in Europe anymore.”Avedik Issahakyan’s works have been translated in many languages and his lyrical poetry into songs. Issahakyan died in Yerevan. His portrait appears on the Armenian 10,000 dram bill.
Hagop Baronian is the foremost satirist in Armenian literature. He was also a writer, publisher and social commentator. His family was extremely poor, as was his health. Although his formal education was minimal, being a brilliant child, Baronian was able to learn Greek, French, and Italian and read all the classics. He began to work at an early age and held a variety of jobs in Istanbul, one of the most important cultural centers of the Armenian Diaspora. This afforded him an excellent opportunity to study the social scene and the common people with their occupations and types. After contributing satirical sketches to several periodicals he became the editor of the Bee Մեղու periodical .
He authored plays such as Brother Balthazar Պաղտասար Աղբար still widely performed, and several novels, of which The Honorable Beggars Մեծապատիւ Մուրացկաններ, an enduring masterpiece about greed and vanity. He has invented the character of Քաջ Նազար Katch Nazar, and written about the Perils of Politeness Քաղաքավարութեան Վնասները. He died destitute of tuberculosis at age fifty.