Last night (Sun. Feb. 17 at 6pm), New York’s Gartal book reading series continued with all the authors of (An)daratsutian Mej [In the (Un)space] at the Cornelia Street Cafe in Greenwich Village. The book is published by the Women’s Resource Center of Yerevan, Armenia.Gartal founder and visionary, Nancy Agabian, hosted the special trilingual reading with her co-authors Lara Aharonian, & Shushan Avagyan.Published with chapters in three languages, the book was conceived as a literary project that would bridge the experiences of these three female writers of Armenian heritage. The assumption is that most people will be able to read the entire book (unless they are trilingual…Nancy Agabian writes in English, Lara Aharonian pens in French, while Shushan Avagyan explores in Armenian prose), yet the symbolism of publishing a multifacted text is profound and points to a type of cultural object that is rather accepted in Europe, West Asia and elsewhere, but is uncommon in America.I sensed an overarching feeling of loneliness in the selected texts from last night, but nonetheless they were still faintly colored by a sense of hope and even at times a small peak of excitement.Here is a great poem by Nancy that appears in her chapter of the book:
Are you a lesbian? he asked.
No, I said, I’m bisexual but I’m afraid of men
What exactly do you fear? he asked.
Their penises, I said
and I shrugged my eyebrows up at him
and he unzipped his zipper and
cut his penis off with his toenail
clipper and waved it
pink in front of my face and
I grabbed it and ran
into the sunset and
it fell in the ocean
and washed up on
the Isle of Lesbos
where they hollowed it out
and treated it with indigenous herbs
to make it hardand they used it
as a tampon holder.
**********ABOUT GARTAL: Since December 2002, Gartal has been an independent forum for both established and emerging writers of Armenian descent and/or writers dealing withArmenian themes to read their poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and dramatic texts to the public. Coordinated by writer Nancy Agabian, Gartal brings together, via the dual acts of reading and listening, diverse Armenian constituencies, from the progressive to the traditional. A particular effort is made to give voice to Armenian stories that haven’t been widely heard, including those of mixed race, various religions, different economic backgrounds, and gay and lesbian Armenians.**********PHOTO CAPTION: (Left to right) Nancy Agabian, Lara Aharonian, & Shushan Avagyan on stage during the Q&A portion of their Gartal reading for In the (Un)space.