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I know that the overwhelming feeling at this centenary of the Armenian Genocide is grief. Everything has a fallen short of expectation. We have been refused so much that we asked for. Even the Great Nations of this Earth who say to us “Armenians! We share your pain” have not learned the lessons of the Armenian Genocide. One only has to look to Iraq and Syria, where our Christian Assyrian brothers and sisters are being murdered to see that the world has not learned. One has to look to the bombing of Aleppo’s Armenian quarter by Turkish backed Islamists to see that the world has not learned. One has to look to the devastation of Kobani, in what God willing will be Kurdistan, where the children of our Kurdish brothers and sisters are cold, starving and orphaned to see that the world has not learned. One has to look to Parliament Hill in Ottawa where hundreds of Turks have gathered to sanctify and praise the murder of our ancestors to see that the world has not learned.
However I have not come here to talk about grief, I am not here to talk about hope either. I am here to tell you all that needs to be said, all that every man, woman and child here assembled needs to know in their hears.
First it was the Persians, then the Romans and than came the Mongols, the Seljuk Turks, the Ottomans… But what all these blinded fools had in common was that they believed they could destroy us. Armenians cannot die by the sword. We are not a nation of men and women but a nation of ancient souls. And what for 2000 years our hated overlords could not learn was that you cannot kill souls, they are eternal. The souls of the ancestors who fell in the Syrian desert have not died. The souls of the martyrs of Baku and Sumgait have not died. The soul of Hrant Dink has not died. Their souls are here guiding us, guarding us through the centuries and millennia to come until the end of time. No Armenians cannot die by the sword.
And where are the Romans today? Where are the Parthians today? Where are the Mongols today? Yet we, Armenians, are here today! And we know where our oppressors will be tomorrow. Where Aliyev, Erdogan, Al-Baghdadi will be tomorrow. No one will even remember the barbaric colour they chose for their Crescent.
I have not come here today to babble about grief or hope but to tell you about tomorrow. And I intend this for the young Armenians. We must remember that our great-grandparents who survived were often the only child in an massacred village to do so. Every single man, woman and child who survived the Genocide is a miracle this every single one of you is a miracle. We must remember that we only have each other. And no amount of recognition can make up for that knowledge.
I am finishing my BA in Interdisciplinary Studies (Classical Studies and Geographical Biogeosciences) at UBC in May. I learned Hebrew at Jewish Day School, so I love incorporating words and phrases into my poetry.
Hypocrisy in Palestine
Pesach genocide: a string around my finger
Shmah, my God
and I heard your voice
echoed in circles
from Yisrael to Breishit
Stories, my God,
I heard stories told in a circle
so no one would forget
they roll from the tongue
sung in voices as varied as the hands
who write the scrolls
and in the middle I found Mitzrayim
I entered Mitzrayim with my father Yoseph
I lived in Mitzrayim with my sister Miriyam
I left Mitrayim with my brother Moshe
I was brought out of Egypt
I was redeemed from Egypt
Baruch, my God
is the beginning of our story
My mother told stories
learned by heart
word-on-word in her heart
she told me stories
In the spring we tell stories
I feel God speak through the mouth of my mother
wrapping me in words
God pointing with the yad tells me
הוצאתי I will bring you out
God brought me out
two thousand years ago
sixty years ago
God tells me
הצלתי I will deliver you
גאלתי I will redeem you
לקחתי I will take you as my people
as my family
We tell the story
we tell our story
we tell to remember
for two thousand years
we say we remembered
but today WE FORGET
Let us take them, my family
Let us take them who have no voice
For we had no voice
so we speak in circles to remember
Though we speak, we do not see
Though we have lips, we have not eyes
We bring upon others what we suffered in Cairo in Chelmno
Let us use our voices to bring out
Let us use our voices to take them
into our hearts
For we know, though others cannot feel
We feel, though sometimes we do not know
because we forget
We were forced to build walls
we lived behind walls
we walked out from the walls
And now again we build a wall
with mud hands with glass eyes with sharp tongues
we tell a corrupted story
Let us tear down the wall
I will bring you out from your suffering
I will deliver you from the suffering I created
I will redeem you for I was redeemed
I will take you into my heart
We shall be taken as a people, to walk free in our land
to tell our stories
in circles we remember
in circles we tell our stories
word-on-word in our hearts
Shalom, my God
let me look first upon myself to bring peace
word-on-word in my heart
Shalom, my god
grant me one last promise
a fifth promise
I will give you
כוח לי תן
give me strength
to tell the story of peace
from the beginning of myself.
I am a lowly undergrad close to the end of my journey. Soon I will emerge from the small cove and enter into the abyss.
Why should I remember you?
The packed trains, the names of the haggard frames, the faces and chases of the brood.
Why should I care for you?
For what was lost, for what remains, for your scars , your echoes of pain.
Why should I weep for you, speak, read, or hear about you,
your cries, your sorrow, today.
When all that was, remains past tense and there are no plans to recommence.
I see no need for penance, why shall I lose my sweet sleep?
What I did not sow, why shall I reap?
Why should I, if I was not…
If you were struck, why strike us back?
You still breath strong, what do you lack?
Justice, they say, indeed but for whom?
Those who suffered have laid to rest, their offspring live even if we confess.
I shall not. Nay, it must remain as it has…
100 years, 1000 more.
No scales can justly balance the score.
This land, our pride, our present—Why?
We must deny the genocide.
We are proud to announce that submissions for the Lemkin-Tehlirian Prize for Poetry are now open. More information