Join us on November 16, 2021 at 4.30pm GMT (11.30am EST; 8.30am PST) for a reading by the winners of the essay competition, Question Your Teaspoons, co-hosted by the Oxford Network for Armenian Genocide Research and the International Armenian Literary Alliance.
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In the words of judge Raffi Joe Wartanian, Curiosity, determination, and love are critical qualities for writers facing an empty page. In that emptiness, we face possibility. We face decisions. We face ourselves. Fretting and faltering, we find black lines of text that etch something earnest and new—the seeds of a burgeoning literary community. Add to this frame our status quo: an ongoing global pandemic; wars raging worldwide; and the triumphs and failures of humanity on full display in a digital age marred by misinformation. How are we to understand these turbulent times? Thankfully, the essayists who submitted their work—in the first essay contest hosted by the International Armenian Literary Alliance and Oxford Network for Armenian Genocide Research—reinforced an ancient lesson: that the writer’s pen can illuminate the darkness, or as James Baldwin articulated, “...lay bare the questions hidden by the answers.”
With George Perec’s invocation to question our teaspoons, we have nourished our community by pushing beyond answers toward questions that reside in what Viken Berberian described as “the footnotes of the everyday.” From meditations on walking to drinking coffee to riding ferries and beyond, each essayist wrote adeptly-realized renderings of “seemingly, trivial daily acts” that represented lenses into every writer’s humanity. To look through those lenses was, for me as a reader, a humbling honor that reinforced how showing up and doing the work edifies us all as readers, writers, and stakeholders. In the face of silence, we spoke. In the face of disease and destruction, we constructed meaning from the incomprehensible. And in a world that might make us mute, meek, and passive, we each emerged victorious for making a crucial choice: to write.
First place: Aizuddin Mohamed Anuar
Second Place: Christopher Atamian
Third place: Nayiri Baboudjian
This event will take place virtually, via the link below, at 4.30pm BST, 11.30am EST and 8.30am PST.
Aizuddin Mohamed Anuar is a writer from Malaysia. His works of fiction and non-fiction have been published in collections such as Endings and Beginnings, Telltale Food, the Mekong Review and in mainstream newspapers in Malaysia. In 2020, he published his first collection of stories and reflections titled "The Towering Petai Tree". Aizuddin is currently completing his DPhil in Education as a Clarendon Scholar at the University of Oxford.
Christopher Atamian is a writer, director and creative producer. He is the former dance and theater critic for The New York Press. Christopher produced the OBIE Award-winning play Trouble in Paradise, participated in the 2009 Venice Art Biennale with his video Sarafian’s Desire and received a 2015 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. His first book of poetry "A Poet in Washington Heights" was awarded the Tölölyan Literary Prize and nominated for a National Book Award. He is finishing a novel and contributes to leading publications such as The New York Times Book Review and The Huffington Post, while working on other creative endeavors in film and theater.
Nayiri Baboudjian Bouchakjian is a(n) educator, writer, and storyteller, who grew up in Lebanon witnessing the civil war, countless assassinations, and explosions. An educator at heart, she has been teaching English Language and Literature for the past 18 years. She loves working with teenagers, empowering them and coaching them to become better versions of themselves. Having trained and mentored over a dozen students for international public speaking competitions, Nayiri believes that teaching should be accompanied with respect, empathy, and motivation. She writes to soothe the banalities of living in a war zone, which more recently has also become a hub of economic meltdown. She is currently working on her memoir which includes stories about growing up in a multiple trauma land, being a caregiver to both her parents and taboo issues associated with body image, and mental health. She has edited two books and is currently working on the third one, along with some translation projects.
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Oxford Network for Armenian Genocide Research, TORCH Networks
Silence Hub, TORCH Networks