Edmond Azadian Feted in Metro Detroit Event
By Harry A. Kezelian
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — The publication of Edmond Azadian’s Armenian-langue new book, Jamanakeh yev Jamanakakitsneroo Het (Time and …..) was presented on Wednesday, May 8, at the AGBU Alex and Marie Manoogian School in Southfield, in a literary evening sponsored by the Detroit Chapter of the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA). The book entails Azadian’s thoughts on different literary figures he has encountered in his time, and criticism of their works. On this occasion, the speakers took the opportunity to not only celebrate the new book, but to celebrate the life work of Azadian.
The chairwoman of the Detroit TCA, Diana Alexanian, welcomed the guests with her bright smile and warmth, then turned the microphone over to the day’s master of ceremonies, Sebouh Avedikian. Avedikian introduced each speaker in his professional tones in English and Armenian. He made a special introduction for the first speaker, Very Rev. Andon Atamian of St. Vartan’s Armenian Catholic Church, as he told the assembled group of Atamian’s brave ministry for the Armenian community in Iraq over the past 20 some years of warfare in that country.
Atamian spoke in beautiful literary Armenian, giving a traditional ode to the life work of Yervant Azadian in the Armenian cultural and especially literary worlds. His speech seemed a tribute not only to Azadian but to the beauty of the Armenian language itself.
The next person to speak was Dickran Toumajan of Wayne State University and the Manoogian School. He read a moving piece written in English by Azadian, titled “Hugging a Turk,” in which Azadian, though decrying the country of Turkey for denying the Armenian Genocide to this day, was movingly reconciled with a Turkish taxi driver who emotionally apologized for the events of 1915, on behalf of her people. Although Azadian believes in continuing the fight against Turkey, this moving experience allowed him to give at least that small amount of forgiveness on behalf of the taxi driver.
At this point the guests enjoyed a musical interlude presented by kanon player Narine Ghambaryan, originally from Vanadzor, Armenia, who has been a music teacher for many years. Ghambaryan presented works by Sayat-Nova and Komitas, and extended an invitation to the community, offering kanon lessons for the youth of Detroit.
Renowned scholar Dr. Kevork Bardakjian, holder of the Marie Manoogian Chair of Armenian Language and Literature at the University of Michigan, was the next to speak. Bardakjian spoke in English, in a conversational tone, presenting an inside look at Edmond Azadian’s life from one of his close collaborators, and sharing moments from interactions both of them had with the literary figures presented in Azadian’s book. Bardakjian spoke about the ways Azadian approaches these figures in his literary criticism and more than once praised Azadian for his ability to stand against certain celebrated figures when he thinks they are wrong, or to praise the little-known efforts of forgotten or even disliked individuals when he finds they have something to offer.
Next, Anahit Toumajan of the Manoogian School, and active in all aspects of Armenian community life in Detroit, gave a reading in Armenian from Azadian’s new book, specifically a section dealing with Azadian’s interactions with the writer Varoujan Bedigian and his appraisal of Bedigian’s work.
The literary evening’s closing remarks were given by Rev. Vahan Tootikian, former pastor of the Armenian Congregational Church of Greater Detroit, and a major leader in the greater Armenian Evangelical movement. Rev. Tootikian gave a lighthearted speech, joking that every time he had been reassigned to a new church in the Middle East or America, Mr. Azadian had “followed” him, being assigned to literary and cultural posts in the very same cities.
The evening ended with the guests enjoying conversation over a light desert spread.
Source: Armenian Mirror-Spectator
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