By Kevork Keushkerian
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Chapter of the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) organized a celebration to honor distinguished educator, poet, author and public speaker Zareh Melkonian on the occasion of his 70 years of service to the Armenian communities in Lebanon and the United States. The event took place on Sunday, November 14, at the TCA’s Beshgeturian Center in Altadena. A capacity crowd had filled the hall from the early hours of the evening.
In her opening remarks, Mistress of Ceremonies Lora Kuyumjian portrayed Zareh Melkonian as a true advocate of the Armenian language and then read a congratulatory note from Zaven Gharibian, the Chairman of the Melkonian Alumni Association of Lebanon. She then invited the first speaker and one of Zareh Melkonian’s former students, Berdj Cholakian, to deliver his remarks.
Cholakian dwelled upon the various themes that Zareh Melkonian has dealt with in his poetry, specifically in his last publication, “In Tumult of Loneliness.” Incidentally, this collection of poems was rewarded with the Haigashen Ouzounian Literary Award in poetry this year.
Cholakian noted that there is a misconception that Melkonian’s poetry is difficult to understand. However, Cholakian argued, that Melkonian’s themes such as hope, love, death, God, patriotism, nationalism and senility are common subjects that we encounter in our daily lives. Cholakian noted that, contrary to public opinion, Melkonian’s poems are written with enjoyable simplicity.
Next, Sevag Ghazarian, a student at AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manougian School in Pasadena, delivered a poetic recitation titled “Armenian Language,” written By Melkonian in 1982. This was followed by a poetic recitation by Zareh Melkonian’s nephew, Alec Ekmekji, who had translated into English a poem from his book, Mountains in Valleys, titled Song about Refuse and Man.