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The Critical Corner - 07/11/2005

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PART ONE: Of human potential, human solidarities and the loss of innocence
[ Go to PART II | Go to PART III ]

By Eddie Arnavoudian

    On the 11th of July 2005 and always, for Vahe Berberian human and
    humane, spirited and gifted, pained yet light, colour and laughter
    giving soul brother to all good people.

	'I am everyone and what is in everyone, is in me also.'
					--Krikor of Narek

	`Ones self I sing, a simple separate person,
	Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.
	Of Life immense in passion, pulse and power,
	Cheerful, for freest action formd under the laws divine,
	The Modern Man I sing.'
					--Walt Whitman

YEGHISHE CHARENTS (1897-1937): a Pablo Neruda of Armenian poetry, a
Nazim Hikmet unbridled, humanist, revolutionary and patriot. Nearly 70
years after his death the quality and the contemporary purchase of his
poetry is testified to, at least indirectly, by the continued effort
of critics to either appropriate his legacy or to destroy his artistic,
and even his personal reputation. Some, such as Gostan Zarian, and in
our own day, Ara Baliozian dismiss Charents as a hack, a degenerate
drug addict, a gun-toting agent of Stalinist repression who only with
Communist Party support was able to pass himself off as a poet of
talent. But Charents's pedestal remains as solid as ever, built it
appears of granite from many different mines. Today, whether
considered or otherwise, discussion is dominated by applauding
commentators, nationalist and communist, humanist and socialist and
even the apolitical intellectual and post-modern theorist - all
searching for a Charents of their particular persuasion.

Charents's poetry, - his collected works amount to at least 8
substantial volumes, - is both a dramatic autobiography and a
provocative socio-political history of his turbulent times.  It is
passionate and partisan. Charents communicates not through commentary
one-step removed, but immediately, tempestuously, through poetry that
flows as if directly from the core of his being. Poetry with him is
almost instinctive, a very condition of his existence. `You must
understand' he exclaims, `I sing to keep moving/I move to sing.'
(DDH/MM p44 *) Charents's is an opus that exudes the revolutionary
spirit, the intellect and the energy of an age of social revolution
and national recovery. Committed to grand ambitions of human
solidarity and liberation, this poetry is a monument of hope and
expectation following the despair of World War One and the Armenian
Genocide of 1915.

If you want your song to be heard, he insisted, you must become the
breath of your times. So he was: an artist of many voices directed by
the storm of revolution to produce an enduring poetry of Whitman-like

Much of contemporary Charents criticism is poor quality partisanship,
often a blatant attempt to temper or deflect the unruly Euphrates of
his poetry. Criticism it seems follows the wishes of those `sober
gentlemen' upon whom Goethes Young Werther poured such scorn:

    `Oh my dear friend... would you like to know why genius so rarely
    breaks its bonds, why it so seldom bursts upon us like a raging
    torrent to shatter our astounded souls? My friend it is because of
    the sober gentlemen who reside on either side of the river, whose
    precious little summer houses, tulip beds, and vegetable gardens
    would be ruined by it, and who know so well how to build dams and
    divert all such threatening danger in good time.'

`Sober gentlemen' of any age cannot cope with vision and ambition that
is propelled by dreams. They cannot tolerate the unorthodox, the
combative, the questioning and the insurrectionary, even if it is
poetry. For such gentlemen Charents poses a particular problem. His
poetry is of life as a permanent revolution. It is a celebration of
endless individual and social endeavour, of stubborn striving and
overreaching, of ceaseless renovation and innovation. Charents's
poetry shows little regard for pre-ordained boundaries or for ossified
traditions however hallowed by the ages these may be. He curses arid
philosophies and inane asceticism. He has no time for provincialism or
vulgar nationalism. He rages against repression, social oppression and
exploitation. There is also, throughout his work, a rush of utter
contempt for the corruption and venality of the sober gentlemen of his
own day. These attributes are all evident even in the most partisan
editions of Charents's poetry that seek to show him in an exclusive


	`My door is open, it is open for you
	My friends and sisters from afar.'
			--Yeghishe Charents

Charents bursts into the world of poetry young, blazing and impossibly
energetic. With unflagging enthusiasm sustained by an unshakeable
confidence in the legitimacy of his vision and ambition he addresses
the present and the future, the men and women of his day as well as
those `yet to be born'. The spirit is, in his futurist words:

	`A radio-station
	Broadcasting to the world and all its peoples.
	Stationed upon the highest peaks
	As high as Mount Ararat and as solid -
	Powerful, imposing'  (Selected Works, 1973, p280)

At 23, brimming to the hilt, Charents announced himself as a poet
whose fame will fire high and mighty through the centuries. By 25 he
declared himself great and dazzling, a shining dispenser of blessings
who cries out:

	`To every passer by
	To share my crazy madness,
	And feel the breath
	Of my uncontrollable happiness.'

Such was to be his poetic mission to share his enthusiasms and his
zest, to inspire, to galvanise and urge on his fellow beings - in
life, in love, in struggle and in revolution. So, even though amid the
mountains of his ruined land, Charents resolved to stand firm and sing
songs with stormy tunes that he could hurl to all corners of the
earth, to all of suffering humanity.

Charents's poetry swells with an enormous sense of self-pride and a
sturdy self-confidence. It is a pride and a confidence that is
enthralling and contagious, for what Charents proclaims for himself he
proclaims for us all. When he sings in his own honour, and he does so
frequently, Charents sings in honour of all. His poetry is addressed
to all his fellow beings, beings as numberless as the stars and the
grains of wheat. It reminds them of what they are and of what they are
capable. In their passage through life they have as immortal fortune
and fertile blessing that which the grain of wheat and the stars can
never ever possess, the magnificent gift of creativity.

	`Do you not know
	That every unknown labourer
	Who wields steel in his hands
	Also has a thousand epics
	Within his awesome steely lungs!' (1973, p287)

Charents's poetry is at one with people as numberless as the waves of
the boundless ocean. It flows from a heart that feels:

	`As floods of the waves
		    The blood of those who, rearing proud,
	Are moving forward to the life that is to come'

Here is poetry of love that is a bridge, not a shore (1973, p190), a
love that reaches out to embrace the world. It is poetry with a soul
so large that everyone can find in it something of her/himself.

	`I was born in Kars, yet in my soul the sun of Iran
	Shone endless, like an inextinguishable longing
	But the homeland of my soul was ever the world as a whole.'

So even in his explicitly political and patriotic writing Charents
becomes a universal narrator and interpreter of all our capacities and
dreams. His voice is yours and mine; it is the neighbour's voice and
the strangers too, all singing together. To quote John Dryden, albeit
terribly out of context, Charents was:
    `A man so various that he seemed to be
    Not one, but all mankinds epitome.'

Masterpieces, among them the unmatched series of `Odes' and `Words of
Advice', catch an echo of that which dwells within us all but rarely
surfaces. They give definition to indistinctly felt powers and brace
unsure steps with firmness and energy. They dispense to everyone a
portion of self-esteem, verve and audacity so that they too can
attempt a leap from lives so often hemmed in, so frequently dammed up
and so repeatedly smothered. Charents's poetry offers everyone
confidence to pace spring-touched fields with ease and puts into their
step the weight to create a track for spring to always follow
behind. It is noble medicine to help repair frail spirits and to
generate the courage to seek for the distant unknown. The poet's words
are words of inspiration to life's bold traveller with the promise

	`You will return with your feet bearing traces
	Of who knows what new pathways,
	Paths never before trodden by voyagers
	Paths that perhaps will bring you to nights
	Where the sun yet shines bright and undying.' (1973, p192)

In its incessant flow the quality of Charents's poetry was inevitably
uneven. The mountains and molehills of his legacy have been commented
upon frequently. It has even been said that Barouyr Sevak prepared
only a single volume of Charents's selected works, claiming that there
didn't exist in his collected work poetry of sufficient shine to fill
two. This is of no consequence, for what is of quality is of
magnificent quality. More than this, Charents laboured hard, endlessly
working and reworking, polishing and refining. So in addition to the
magnificent we also have, albeit in verse that is not always poetry,
an incisive and bold record of the ambitions of a universal man and
the social, political and cultural contours of the world in which he
fought to realise them. It is a rich record that provides broad and
fertile territory for discussion not just of yesterday's literature,
politics and life but of today's as well.


	`There is fire in my heart, fire.'
				--Yeghishe Charents

Charents's earliest poetry has an unusually gentle, but still magnetic
power, its mood frequently evocative of the fertile consciousness that
accompanies the unfathomable loneliness of youth and the mysteries of
its first and frequently lost loves. The best of these poems return to
us in exuberant freshness elements of our youthful selves. They draw
to the surface, still throbbing, those impulses, desires and hopes, as
well as confusions and frustrations that lie buried beneath seams of
emotion hardened by subsequent experience. The evocations acquire
seductive form in refined language, rhythm, sound and harmony. The
thrill of youth's spontaneous urges, of its expansive loves that echo
like long lost lines of a love sonnet, its winged ambitions and
fulsome generosity jump off the lines of even the shortest pieces:

	`For you all the warmth that is in my heart
	For you all the blazing fires of my enthusiasm
	All a gift to you let nothing rest with me
	Only that you do not freeze in the winter cold all for you.'
	(Selected Works 1985, p 49)

But ominously dominating the spirit in this early poetry are the
brooding uncertainties of an age when there seem to be:

	`Neither light nor dark. No fire, no snow.
	And in the mists, over our souls
	An invisible hovering bird
	Its wings spread and fluttering'. (1973, p9)

Poems such as `On the Road', `The Dying Day' and `When Your Weeping
Stopped' measure the pain of youth for whom life appeared without
horizon, without sun or song, as if its journey is impossible and its
destination forlorn, when there appear to be no bridges, yet the river
runs wild. Flushed as he is with a Derianesque melancholy, Charents
betrays no resignation. The spirit is simultaneously possessed of a
yearning for harmony that is suggested by gentle evening skies:

	`Skies that are like dreams of the soul
	Skies that are like children's eyes.'

One even hears early on the notes of human solidarity that were to
define Charents's later work, notes reaching out for a community among
strangers, for a bond among all living creatures, among the countless
strangers who cross paths silently, without acknowledgement:

	`Traveller, halt! Halt! Let us look. Let us look at each other.
	Perhaps we shall suddenly smile on recognising a friend...
	You passed blindly. You did not look and vanished in the mist
	But I shall long remember your strange and foreign face.'
	(1985, p62)

The bleaker chords in this early poetry are not borne solely from the
inner, existential anguish of young life. Nor are they merely a
product of decadent European influence, as Hrant Tamrazian suggests in
his otherwise stimulating and sometimes masterly consideration of
Charents's work. (Yeghishe Charents, Yerevan, 1987) The lure of dreamy
skies that are like children's eyes contrast not just to turmoil
within but to the social and material hardships without. Some of these
early poems express an individual, private experience of a harsh
childhood that:

	`...passed like a mist
	floating, grey, sunless, inconsolable.' (DDH/MM p81)

Charents tells his own story in `Childhood' (1973, p135-142), a 1930
poetic polemic against Gourgen Mahari's conception of childhood as one
of golden hues. Charents's was one of the `greyest of canvases'. It
was `one simple story', and it `did not resonate with gentleness and
charm'.  Its core recollection is of stench, a stench symbolic of
humiliation at the hands of the wealthier and more powerful.

`Who among you' when a child failed to `feel that rush of delight on
first walking the street in a fine new suit of clothes?' Charents's
bliss was doused in stench. His landlord's jealous son from the
balcony of his father's home urinates on the poet's brand new shirt.
(1985, p371) `To this day when mention is made of the word childhood/I
dont know why, but I recall that odour.' Throughout his `entire
childhood' from `on high such tenderness rained.'

	`Yet when I rose to resist
	My mother reprimanded me, terrified,
	And insisted that I accept all odours wafting from above
	Humbly and silently...'

This was no childhood. This was a stinking past that held only
humiliation and death. Death here is no poetic exaggeration.
Charents's views were based on personal experience - his own and that
of the youngsters he taught in a school in Kars. Daily they would
report to him of friends dying helpless and abandoned, victim to the
many ravages of war. Retorting that it is not he who is guilty for
having failed to weave childhood in colours of blue that shimmer like
visions of paradise, Charents concludes with a plea:

	`Gourgen, instead of refurbishing a grey grim childhood
	Better that we sing for brighter days in our older age.'

Charents did not bend to his mother's beseeching and set out for the
promise of dreamy skies, a journey that was to demand of him endless
resistance and revolt. Before rejoining him it is worth drawing
attention to an affinity between Charents's Childhood and Leon
Trotsky's views of childhood, the recollection of which opens
interesting avenues for thought.

Leon Trotsky was an arch rival to Stalin to whose purges Charents fell
victim. In opening his autobiography `My Life', Trotsky remarks that:

    `Childhood is looked upon as the happiest time of life. Is that
    always true? No, only a few have a happy childhood... The majority
    of the people, if it looks back at all, sees, on the contrary, a
    childhood of darkness, hunger and dependence. Life strikes the
    weak and who is weaker than a child?'

Juxtaposing Charents and Trotsky is not intended to lend credence to
the fabricated charges of Trotskyism that were used against the poet
by the `sober gentlemen' of the Stalinist purges. The broad similarity
of their perception of childhood is either coincidental or express
elements of a commonly held Marxist outlook. Nevertheless bringing
Trotsky into the picture this early can contribute a little to
clearing the air of malicious claims that Charents was a Stalinist
hack. It also affords an opportunity to put into perspective
unfortunate affirmations such as one by Marc Nshanian that:

    `With Charents too (as with Ossip Mandelstam), poetry became sheer
    resistance, but only at the end of his life, when it was certain
    that he was to die. This is no small difference.' (Writers of
    Disaster p27)

In his exposition Marc Nshanian equates `sheer resistance' not with
opposition to Stalin but only with opposition to communism as such.
Why he does so, particularly in Charents's case, is not at all clear,
but it certainly lacks generosity. Charents never ceased to be a
communist. But his resistance to Stalinism was sheer enough to lead
directly to his death. And it was resistance that he was engaged in
well before his last days. At one important point in this battle
Trotsky featured centrally, if not explicitly. In `Achilles or Piero?'
a long dramatic poem that he began writing in 1929, a full 7 years
before his death, Trotsky in the form of Achilles is pitted against
what Charents considered Stalins appropriation and corruption of the
legacy of the 1917 Revolution. Charents's 1930 `Epic Dawn' and his
last volume the 1933 `Book of the Road' also contain scores of
uncompromising challenges to corrupted ideals, abused power and
illegitimate authority.

Charents did make concessions to Stalin and the powers that prevailed.
But these retreats, if they are to be judged correctly, must be
evaluated with a degree of generosity. Victor Serge, an anarchist and
an uncompromising opponent of Stalinism had first hand experience of
the regime. He was closer to truth when writing that:

    `From the outside it is impossible to imagine the terrible
    pressures to which a man of ideas is subjected to by totalitarian
    regimes: if you know this, then you no longer have the heart to
    condemn the small retreats, the little acts of pusillanimity, and
    even the low tricks which the regime succeeds in forcing on those
    who strive to maintain, even silently, hidden and disguised, a
    conscience that is at least slightly free.' (Collected Writings on
    Literature and Revolution)

To these issues we will return later. But for the moment...


Charents's first revolt was against parental authority and the
stifling provincial education he was subjected to. It is recorded in
`Homo Sapiens' (1973, p122) another 1930 autobiographical poem that is
simultaneously an open invitation to strive for heights beyond the
everyday of bowed imaginations.  Taking his story to 1913 when he was
sixteen it registers the clash between immediate reality and the urge
to always go beyond that was to drive Charents on through life. The
city of Kars, where he grew up, had `nothing with which to seduce
him.'  Its main street was but a `cart track', `narrow', `hot, dusty'
and almost `always empty'. It was, as he wrote elsewhere, `a city with
no colour' where `the days die sickly and tremblingly anxious' and
`the night is given over to shame and the lie.'

School in Kars was as uninviting as life in general was uninspiring.
Charents preferred the local park. There he could retreat and delve
into one of his favourite books that, on its cover had imprinted `Homo
Sapiens'. Father and son were rapidly estranged. The son `did not like
his father' and to `the father the son had become a puzzle'. Neither
his father nor his teachers could understand the kind of books
Charents devoured. These books, to which Charents dedicated his `Ode
to Books' (1973, p196), held for him a special place. True, many were
like `fabled mansions/that when you turn inside/turn out to be but a
dusty emptiness'. But countless others:

	our hearts slowly and silently
	with elegiac passions
	we did not know we had.' (DDH/MM, p200)

Books are a `boundless universe' that preserves `many-coloured fires,
the voices of nature and the fragrances of human life'. They form a
`noble cavalry of thought' with which to wage the battle of life.
`Homo Sapiens' was an actual title by a Polish author. Whatever its
literary merits (for a critical comment see Tamrazian's `Yeghishe
Charents') in Charents's poem it becomes the summation of the book of
life. Reading it `this miserable boy from the provinces' `soared high
above his surroundings just as Mt Elbrouz rises over its marshes.'

Charents's `Homo Sapiens' serenades the blooming of confidence in
human capacity. It celebrates the flourishing of the inner drive to
push beyond the narrowness of everyday circumstance. It is a poem of
intellect and emotion become conscious of its own worth. From its
pages a `gigantic hand hurled lightning that set soul... and passion
ablaze' and convinced the reader that s/he too could be a `titan, with
spirit, intellect and desires' capable of `vanquishing all obstacles
before it', `capable of reaching beyond all deadening borders'. So
inspired, Charents, a mere provincial boy, `with movement befitting
talent' `brushed his forehead' and `decided that he was to become in
life/A great poet.'

But first Charents had to free himself from mystical snares that
alienated him from his own self and from nature. `Marie: Bird-Woman'
(1985, p18), written before he was twenty, records his personal revolt
against Christianity and its promise of eternal life as true destiny.
Eternity for Charents is a dungeon. Once he too `buried his soul... in
its lifeless plains' where `there are no sparkles from lanterns
aflame', where `there are no flowers or spring'. It was in these
`misty fields' of a promised eternity that he had `lost the ancient
terrestrial paths of joy'.

	`Oh what a heavy, heavy burden upon my shoulders
	This weight of the eternal.'

In opposition is an insistence on fulfilment in the here and now, free
of any notions of a beyond:

	`I want myself, myself, do you hear me woman?
	Myself, myself who is and will never be again!'

Though a theme well worn, Charents's presentation has a youthful vigour
and simplicity that echoes well hedonist and materialist traditions
running consistently through human history and culture.

Charents was impatient to set out for the `shimmering gold drenched
roads of the limitless milky way' (DDH/MM, p81). So the ever-intrepid
traveller bids goodbye to his birthplace and his family home `built of
rough stone on a river's bank'. But beyond Kars, as he `passes through
the streets of foreign cities' Charents `sees around him a world that
is rowdy and human life that is unequal'. This world is a lonely place
where no one asks: `who are you or what have you achieved?' In `Words
of Farewell' from Moscow addressed to his beloved Karine Kotanjian,
Charents bitterly recalls:

	`I have put out so many fires in my eyes
	And extinguished so many stars in my disconsolate soul.'
	(1985, p63)

Worse than his own personal woe was the calamity being visited upon
the Armenian people and indeed the entire world, the calamity of
genocide and World War One.


At 18, almost unexpectedly:

	`Even I do not understand
	How from the park in Kars
	Near the end of 1915
	I woke among soldiers
	A volunteer.
	The Armenian Army.'

Charents and his comrades had enlisted to save the Armenian population
of Ottoman occupied Van from genocide by the Young Turk government.
>From the front he wrote `A Danteesque Legend' (1973, p235-255), a
harrowing witness to war and genocide. Its descriptions and images of
gruesome death, of habitual cruelty, of emotion's adjustment to
violence and of the mutilation of youthful innocence are sufficient to
place this epic among the finest war poetry and among the most
shattering depictions of the slaughter of innocent civilians. Truths
of wars, whether just or unjust ones, unfold in a series of
admonishing contrasts, including those of images of an unwittingly
serene and beautiful nature providing the stage for savage violence of
human upon human.

The protagonists are, like the poet, young idealistic soldiers. They
may be Armenian soldiers but their mood is universal, recalling the
enthusiastic cheer in countless European cities in 1914 when young men
first departed for war and killing. They set off on horseback with
spirits held upright by glorified notions of armed battle.  Nothing
troubles them, neither `those confused emotions when taking leave/nor
any suspicion of death'. They have not the slightest idea of what
military combat actually entails and have no premonition of the
horrors of mass murder:

	`Our gait, a dance; we sang,
	delighted by the glint of weapons.
	Everything seemed innocent
	of finality or death as if
	in a blue and childish dream.'
	(DDH/MM, p64)

Only incidentally, almost casually does innocence begin to crumble.
Along their way:

	`By the side of the road we saw a corpse
	We halted and for a moment looked at each other.
	Beneath the rains it had already rotted
	The driving rain had washed away every
	Memory of its life.'

The corpse they encounter could have been Armenian, Turkish, even
Kurdish or Assyrian. Who `could tell of what race?' asks the poet.
Yet it too was once `like us, in love with life'. But in the early
days of heady enthusiasm such encounters are brushed aside as
transient, ephemeral aberrations.  As the battalion resumes its march
on a morning of glorious sunshine rising from beyond the mountain

	`I forgot that grotesque, disfigured corpse
	I breathed deep the fragrance of the earth
	So once again the world appeared new and fresh
	To my full and open heart.'

But reality steadily shakes the gloss off slogans of war:

	`Here, a few more bodies
	And there, a braid of female hair
	And here again beneath some bloodied blankets
	Crumbs of bloodied putrid bread.
	Who could leave this place stone hearted, silently or without a tear?'

As the repeated encounter with `unburied, distorted corpses became for
us routine', `youthful spirits' that were once `fired by a thousand
dreams' were ` maimed'. Burying a woman who dies before their eyes:

	`We took to the road, dead men walking
	There also burying our useless conscience.'

Witness to such previously unimagined barbarisms, young soldiers:

	`With speechless glances buried each other
	and entered the grave of each others souls.' (DDH/MM, p78)

Thereafter open the doors of Dante's inferno. Emotion, feeling, psyche
are all traumatised. Men are transformed into `executioners and
victims'. To live they `kill and maim', they `trample even upon their
comrades' corpses' and `use them as barricades'. In this `whirlpool of
fear and blood' both friend and foe `are no different to savage

The grandiose promise of `Homo Sapiens' now appears as little more
than a grotesque fraud, a deception and a lie. Yet `we must walk' and
`walk stubbornly' for within us still, despite all the horror and
death, we continue to carry a `gigantic passion to live.' But the
journey cannot proceed without fundamental questioning:

	`Why this world destroying dream
	Hanging blindly over our heads?
	Why this heavy blanket of pain and ruin?
	These deadly storms, when will they cease
	And who is it that conspires
	To transform life into this cursed inferno?'

Seeking answers Charents turned to Communism and supported the
Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. After the butchery of World War One and
the Genocide they were for him `a lifesaving, life giving hurricane'
that `washed our mountainous land like a running river in spring'.

Here, before moving on, it is again of value to remark on another
affinity with another great figure of international import, one that
this time draws attention to the creative substance of Charents's
poetry in his communist period, a period that lasted to the end of his
life. Railing against communism, conceived of as a soulless force cold
to the breath, and breadth of life, the Turkish communist poet Nazim
Hikmet insisted that a Marxist is not a `mechanical man, a robot' but
a `concrete, historical social human being with flesh and blood,
nerves, head and heart.' Hikmet wanted his poems to `address all my
readers' problems'. `A communist writer' he insisted `has to reflect
all human feelings.' In similar vein, Charents in a critique of vulgar
revolutionary literature wrote:

	`In this century of ceaseless motion
	In this ocean of mountainous waves
	People live as they did before
	Rich with emotion
	With passions as powerful as hurtling waves
	And a thousand emotions in the heart.' (1973, p97)

`Sing to such people' Charents challenged, `if you can', sing to these
people with `all their countless emotions grand and small'. Charents
could `never, never forget' that:

	`I have not only been gifted a human heart
	Human loves, desires and passions,'

But that, in addition, there is also in the world...a `mad, mad moon.'

So he `cannot fail to love life in all its fullness, in its fecund
totality'. His poetry in the age of Armenian communism and the Russian
Revolution was to amply demonstrate this.

As he charted his own poetic map of communism Charents felt the need
to close accounts with the dominant forces of Armenian nationalism,
not with patriotism, not with his love of homeland and its
civilisation, but with those political forces and ideologies that had
in his judgement proved to be disastrous for the Armenian people.

* (DDH/MM following an excerpt indicates translation by Diana Der
Hovannessian and Marzbed Margossian from their `Eghishe Charents: Land
of Fire - Selected Poems', Ardis,1986).

End of Part One. [Continue to PART II]

Eddie Arnavoudian holds degrees in history and politics from
Manchester, England, and is Groong's commentator-in-residence on
Armenian literature.  His works on literary and political issues
have also appeared in Harach in Paris, Nairi in Beirut and Open
Letter in Los Angeles.

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